Report on the state of grey affairs.
Friday 20 November 2020

Hospitals are odd places. Entering one means stepping into a biome with clearly defined limits, with its own rules, its own climate and even its own characteristic colour scheme—unmistakable association of cream, mint green, blues and white. The same artificial light shines there day and night, continuously, offering no change in the way the bleak linoleum floor or the furniture appear to the eyes of the visitor. Shadows stay frozen in place. Three times a day, the smell of cafeteria food mixes with the scents of sanitizer and cleaning product.

I understand why so many people are scared of hospitals. They are ominous, even more so in my opinion than crematoriums or cemeteries. There is—to an extent—a certainty in death, a terrible but comprehensible finality. It is complete, total, irreversible. It is done. Grief is there now, ready to be experienced fully, or it has had the time to slowly fade. Hospitals on the other hand, can be places devoted to the act of waiting and to the anxiety that goes with it. The kind you experience when you grit your teeth in anticipation of the pain that you can see coming. Of course, they are also places for recovery, for miracles. For hope, and for the potential disappointment it carries.

In the hospital time seems to flow independently from the rest of the world, the one that can be witnessed through the sealed windows: It is a place beside. Activity never stops. Hours and days are often counted down. Clocks are unreliable. Your appointment should have started 40 minutes ago.

I had to stay in a hospital for 3 weeks when I was 16. After the first two weeks of my stay, I started nicknaming the place “Hotel Aquarium”, or “the aquarium”. I was admitted in March, and when I came out in April, the trees in the streets had grown leaves without me around to experience it. I had been betrayed. Three weeks had been taken away from my life and I wouldn’t get a refund. It was unacceptable, and there was nothing to be done about it. I cried in frustration on the way back home.

Over the course of the past months, I found myself going back to this memory a lot.

Since I started writing reports, since the very first one, I kept gushing about how well grey was doing and presenting the extent of its spreading over and over again like a proud parent. The situation as far as I can see hasn’t changed much, and grey is still thriving. The horizon is still fuzzy and mysterious, cryptic. Hope comes and goes with the tide. So I started wondering about what would happen if suddenly, grey started doing poorly or straight up vanished. And what kind of report I would have to write. As a form of experiment, I decided to write a draft that I could keep at arm’s length in case of a nightmare scenario of grey erasure.

Friends and enemies, Grey is gone. The information has just come in, and it is without hesitation that I can confirm that grey has indeed disappeared, precisely because hesitation has gone with it. So did doubt and assumptions of any kind. No more speculation, nor hypothesis. Goodbye uncertainty. All is clear now, and things are nothing more than what they are. See for yourself and take a look outside, but do so carefully: it is a lot to take in. The rays of the sun are acute and sharp now, too much for the frail human eye to handle. The increased contrast got the better of the soft nuances and subtle gradients. And every crack in the pavement, every corner that was once concealed, every hidden nook is now exposed, marking the death of the unknown.

Something happened to categories. They have grown fiercer, bigger and ravenous. They have rearranged themselves, squeezed against one another so that the spaces between them cannot be tread anymore. Either you stand in a category, or you fall in the void that flows in the rare spaces left around them. No boths or ands. There is no beside the point. No ambiguity.

The in-between is gone, resulting in the mass extinction of all its dwellers. The harsh light of the day that no dawn precedes shines on the fading remains of what once were chimeras and ghosts. Some of the least damaged specimen will be preserved and stuffed, propped in glass displays until what is left of the mysterious reflections in their fur finally turns to dust. It’s the least that can be done, right?

Space is sliced by the edges of borders that cannot be crossed anymore. Migration is a thing of the past.

I could keep going on with this exercise, describe the tragic erasure of failure, the loss of queerness. But I think I have a solid basis I can potentially reuse for what would certainly be my last report. If the times come, I will be ready. And in the meantime, I will keep my grey things close.