It was either the time I was crouched behind a rust bucket of a car, hiding from a skinhead, in the parking lot of the goth club, or it was the time that a I was scurrying between tables with a bus pan, picking up pint glasses when a customer pinched my nipple ring through my shirt and asked what gauge they were that Sena stood up for me. I pretty sure it was the later.
I am grateful for that part of my life: for sometimes sleeping on flattened boxes under abandoned buildings. There’s electricity in the laughter of youth, huddled together on a stack of railroad ties by the fire.
There’s also sadness there, the muscle of sadness sinewed to tremendous loss by the connective tissue of my psyche.
I am glad to have been there, but I don’t ever want to go back.
Yet there is Sena, stored in that place in my memory. Down to earth as a friend, fierce as a defender. Kids on the fringe need that. They need someone who will sit with them, who will look them eye-to-eye and say with conviction, “You matter.”
Somehow 20 years passed. Not everyone that sat on the railroad ties by the fire had the same passage of time. Some will forever be 22, 18, 16. That loss is unfathomable, and yet… here we are. Some lives go on.
It should come as no surprise that nearly 20 years later Sena, steady and compassionate as ever, is running for Charlottesville City Council on a platform of affordable housing, educational opportunities, and fighting government inaction on climate change.
She is someone who walks the walk, who feels the community’s pain and who sits with people when they are hurting and levels with them, “You matter.”
I believe that she will help Charlottesville find its way.
And whether she knows it or not, I am so grateful for her friendship, for sitting with me at times that were confusing and heartbreaking.
I believe that she will help Charlottesville find its way just as she has helped me to find mine, because she believes we matter.