Rahne Alexander


Photograph by Jabin Botsford / The New York Times

In 2003 I had this job. This job sent me on a business trip to Tulsa. I got on a plane. I got off the plane and was picked up by a cab. The cab driver had to drive half an hour, maybe more. While we drove he told me about the history of Tulsa, particularly the infamous Tulsa race riot of the early 20th century. This was not something I learned about in school. Where I went to school you were lucky if you knew where Tulsa was. The cab took me to a hotel, where I slept. I woke up and went to do some work things. One of the work things was to go to some reception in a museum which specialized in the art of the American West. At the reception, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I wasn’t business-y enough to talk to the business people, who had nothing to talk about anyway. The people I felt like I could talk to couldn’t talk to me because they were walking around with drinks or hors d’oeuvres on trays. I thought I’d take a break from all of these shenanigans and walk around the museum and get my shit together, which seemed reasonable given that the reception had the whole museum to explore and none of those people were looking at the art. The museum was quite full of art from the American West, which included no small number of grisly realist paintings of murder and war and horses. There seemed to be no end to the images. Great care had been taken to craft those images. Many were in oils. I sat down because I was crying and defeated and utterly heartbroken. I was lost and I was in the wrong place and there was no way out and I couldn’t go back because what was I going to do — eat hors d’oeuvres? Do business? This feeling has returned tonight.