One year ago, I was sat in bed. My partner-at-the-time was sleeping on the floor. I had found out a couple of days before that he had fucked another woman in his friend’s house on the Tuesday. I had left a full-time job at the beginning of the academic year, to give my time to the Junior Fellowship at Goldsmiths. Since September a family friend of his had offered us the attic room in her house for £175pm each. I could just get by on savings and my meagre income from the university. So, when things felt irreparable, I couldn’t afford to leave. He shared his privileges with me, which then became cruelly twisted.
It was a Saturday, and I just found out Mark Fisher died. Mark. The only person who made me feel like I belonged in the academy. Mark. Who’s text Good for Nothing made me cry because it articulated that same class power(lessness) I felt. Mark. The lecturer who I hung about after class to chat to, because I wanted to make sure he was okay. His vulnerability emanated from him. Mark. Who was glorious when angry, beautifully articulating those things at the back of your mind, those things that had been bothering you all your life, you just couldn’t name it. He was wonderful at naming things. Once named, we could do something about it – at least we hoped.
My partner and I sat separately on the bed, each of us crying. Neither of us able to comfort one another. I was too repulsed by him to even touch him. There was a particular cruelty to the chain of events, as those who had begun to build my trust and self-worth were rapidly taken away. So we cried. We hoped it wasn’t suicide, but we knew it was. Then it was confirmed and we cried more. I don’t remember much else from the rest of that day, other than receiving messages on Facebook as we lived too far away from our support networks.
I became fanatic, fixating desperately on Mark and being active on campus. Our attic bedroom became a site of despair, confusion and depression. Once I moved out in June, I returned once to collect my things, attempting to go on my own. As soon as I entered the room I had a panic attack lasting several hours, not stopping until my friend came over (reluctantly because he had also fallen out with my partner) and helped me. I spent six months in that space that I felt I couldn’t afford to leave. My declining mental health making any thought of getting another job and leaving impossible. We lived an hour (sometimes an hour and a half, depending on traffic) away from our support networks, our friends and our workplaces. Everything was an hour away from the emotional abuse we submitted one another to. Our landlady despaired, she was also going through a hard time after her parents’ deaths. It was a miserable, miserable period. I am relieved to no longer be there.
Friday night at Res., this came flooding back to me as I blinked back tears. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what was going on in my personal life at the time. I felt classed and gendered, not finding any understanding. Respite came in the form of friends who let me stay with them, as well as organising on campus, fighting for Mark’s memory. I burnt out every week. Commuting, working, campaigning, crying, drinking, smoking, drugs, sleeping for long periods, spending long days inside too burnt out to move. I was lucky to have a roof over my head in London and I still value my landlady’s generosity every day. Privilege sharing is important. But when I did view the house I was going to move into, I cried because the residents made tea and were kind and caring. All of this is a reminder to never privatise myself to a single individual again and the mindfuckery that goes with that. Being communal in our selves is important. Considering Bifo’s writings, sense is indeed made in shared spaces and happiness is most certainly of the corporeal mind.
I miss Mark deeply. He just got what it is like to be poor. There was a bitter irony to my lived situation, and the loss of such a wonderful man. If he couldn’t manage it… we were scared. I think of him every day. I wish I’d told you how important you were to me. I wish your care wasn’t a rarity. You helped me feel like I belong somewhere, even if that was in not-belonging. Because you felt you didn’t belong either, Mark. The marks of class are indeed designed to be indelible, you understood it so well. I miss you.
When your dad talked about Hillsborough at your memorial, that you were there, and had carried that survivor’s guilt with you. I cried even harder. It made sense. It continues to make sense. You were a constellation of such incredible histories, communities and memories. And you lived the contradictions, perhaps more personally and creatively than many. I am so glad I knew you. I am so glad you shared some of your passion and fury with me. We are still dreaming of those lost futures as we try to enact unknown ones.
We are indebted to you, love.