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Attending

December 3, 2020

I can’t tell you why I rented the theater downtown, other than that it was inevitable, like the notes of a song. Facing the rows of empty velvet seats, I felt the thrust of potential. At night, doctors stood on stage telling stories—not of helicopter rides and loss of blood, but of waffling, of wanting, of grappling with themselves. The audience arrived like spirits, craving not entertainment but something more fundamental and urgent. I sat backstage, eyes closed, living and dying in every pause, every ripple of laughter. This—a live storytelling event by those in health care, for those in health care—was the first thing I had ever originated, one that came from the roiling place inside of me and not a script.

 

Photo by Alex Potter

The New Berliners

On a chilly April morning in 2016, at a newly converted shelter in southern Berlin, Om Belal struggled as she maneuvered her ten-year-old son, Jad, in his wheelchair out the building’s front door.