A 25-year-old can of soup was an honored relic at a food bank that I worked at — every food bank probably has one. Before each volunteer shift, the volunteer coordinator would go through the instructions for sorting through the industrial size cardboard boxes full of canned and dried donated goods. The shining star of this repetitive presentation was the quarter century year old can that sat on a special shelf next to her office.
Melia Smith Archive
In the throes of the holiday season last December, the careful balance between read and unread emails in my inbox was starting to take a turn. As I conducted my daily reckoning of my inbox, one message jumped out at me, demanding my immediate attention. It didn’t have a subject.
I recognized the handle right away though; I knew who it was. A riff on her name, she always used the same version of that handle for her social media accounts.
I took a deep breath and rolled my eyes.
“Well actually …”
This is how gaslighting always begins.
I was meeting with my ED to tell her that I was quitting my position at Mesa Arts Center. Even though I came prepared to explicitly detail the reasons I was leaving, I was still surprised she bothered to ask why. If she’d been half cognizant of the chaos erupting in our department over the past 22 months, it should have been obvious to her. She hadn’t earned my honesty, but I was honest with her anyway.