Today, the baristas at the coffee shop we’ve been going to for the last four years finally asked our names. I’m not annoyed at how long it too, I was a barista too, they have no obligation to keep me any closer than arms length. But it was nice. It’s nice to be seen as well-liked regulars.

At the same time, an artist I follow on Cohost mentioned they were tabling at a convention, and man, I want to do that again. It’s my goal to table again, probably for zines this time around -- though I’d love to do one more pass at Ultimate League and get a book version of it out. But what I really want is to get into a community again.

My partner and I moved to this area in October of 2019, and we had started the process of making friends when COVID hit, and we never really recovered. At the same time, we’ve grown disenchanted with the area, which is frustrating: this place is where I grew up. It’s my home. And I’ve said before that I love my city like a family member, for everything that means. But we’re planning on leaving by the end of the year. This state is hostile to people like us, and while the City might be a dark blue oasis in a mostly red state, the state definitely likes to make the City hurt if it can. We don’t feel safe here to be ourselves, and with the 2024 election looming, we’re terrified of the outcome.

And the thing is, I feel like such a traitor moving. I feel like I’m letting everyone like me here down. And maybe I am. Maybe I should have taken another swing at the community here. But we can’t go back to the enthusiasm we had in 2019. It feels like the damage has been done.