Freedom News

A moment of memory for Anna Campbell

It has been five years to the day since a loved and respected anarchist fell in defence of the Kurdish revolution. Her friend remembers their life together in all its messy, stubborn and glorious fullness. 

Dear Anna,

You never know when you’re going to have your last kiss, your last hug, your last shared knowing moment, that smile that melts the most stubborn of frustrations, the warmth and kindness particular to that person’s efforts to be a great and incredible friend. You just don’t know.

I will never forget that moment when you kissed me at the crossing. I have always been too awkward to make the first move, scared I’m misinterpreting the moment, but you were almost always unwavering, you understood people with willful diligence.

It took us four years to go through your belongings. Pages of letters, paper, notes, cards, pamphlets, paper for remembrance, paper for recollection, paper for some reason can’t quite be thrown away. We will never know why. I went through my memory box today. It’s so funny how we imbue so many 2d colourful bits of paper with the most important experiences of our lives and the most important people we know. I wept when I found a card I’d given to you years ago, now with cards from you. It all gets returned to sender in the end. My favourite thing from you is a badly but beautifully made stencil book of feminists through the ages -a special appearance from Valerie Solanas. Not sure you would’ve put her in now. But your favourite, Voltairine de Cleyre, November 17, 1866 – June 20, 1912, American anarchist, and prolific writer. I misspelt a quote from her on the back of the book we made about you and Haukur Hilmarsson. When the thousand prints came, I lay on the floor in despair as if you’d died all over again: ‘I die, as I have lived, a free spirit, an Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or EATHLY.’

I put you through some silly moments, and you put me through some sleepless nights. Some I would never change, and I could never change you, I just wish you knew how to be more scared of dangerous things sometimes. Or at least were more willing to give in to it. I wish more than anything that I could be angry at you for having courage. But like with everyone, your most annoying qualities were also your best qualities and opened us all up to better possibilities. The flip of the coin: middle-class, obtuse, stubborn, willful, sincere, principled, caring, community-focused. Solidarity with others. Internationalism, the unbreakable connection between living beings. Let’s be here for each other. We remember our loved ones through what we do for each other, every day. Fuck heteronormative monogamy. Romance and affection for all! Let’s embrace the commons like it’s a warm living body! A powerful idea! A dangerously seductive plan for action. Fuck borders that prevent us from being together.

I wish I could remember more. But I don’t think we are supposed to remember things so much so that we can relive them over and over. If we did, then I would bask in your light, the best times we had, even some of the worst saddest times we had together because you would still be here, in my dreams and fantasies and sometimes I’m not brave enough to sit in the present without you. In a way, I’m glad I remember less and less because I’m left with the feeling instead, and this feeling of you, it doesn’t leave. It’s here, always. And not just with me, it’s here with an entire generation and more. You changed many of us for the better, and I wish, wish we could’ve all seen each other get better and better. Grow old together. Become elders in the movement. I hate the universe for being so wretched, and I hate states, the patriarchy, ethno-fascism, racism and capitalism for feeding off this wretchedness and reducing us down to nothing. Fuck you, you absolute mega cunts. Really, fuck you.

Like bits of paper, the idea of you permeates us with energy to carry the movement forward: we love turning people into symbols. You weren’t indulgent. You were silly sometimes yes – endless backies on broken bikes falling in the rain, you cycled a bike for 10 miles on a broken axle (so up for hard work always), we cycled barefoot through ZAD de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, jumped into cesspits thinking they were lakes, jumped trains through Europe, hitched with military men and Brussels lawyers, slept together in single sleeping bags under church arches. A bucket full of wheat paste gaffa taped to your handlebars, sticky, snotty, you were the girl with plaits (so innocent you could get away with anything ), you squatted buildings and fought the fash (tough as fuck), cute little cut-off teeshirts (punk, but not really), terrible at parallel parking (I’m sorry I laughed), I never loved your bread (but I always loved how you followed through with tasks even if you were doing it badly, and also I found one of your recipes in one of your books on my bookshelf recently). Thank you for the weird tattoos on my body, thank you for showing me the best love, you were a brilliant letter writer, great at reminding people what they were good at. You were a wonderful woman. Strong and kind. Smart but not a bastard about it (though we often disagreed).

I miss our pep talks (you gave me the confidence to follow through on plans and sometimes I think I helped you), I miss you calling me for redundant advice about stuff you already knew how to do.

I started getting wrinkles a few years ago. Age is happening, time is happening, and in a few hundred years’ time, almost all of us will have been forgotten. Isn’t it interesting that everyone here now, or at least were here some of the time, are part of a particular experience: the world rotates and suddenly it’s a whole new set of people. You gave a texture to this life that I’m so glad we were here for… How wild and utterly strange. What I’m saying is you were and are here with us, with every person on this planet right now, you added to it in more ways, wonderful ways than you could ever possibly imagine. When I’m working on my boat, I wear your overalls and I feel like I am living up to the feminist ideals we instilled in each other, learning from comrades and feminists from history. Made into symbols of a better world, like you.

I wish we had more photos, but we are anarchists and we hate photos so now we have very few pictures of you. Much to everyone’s annoyance, I’ve started taking many photos. Too many photos. I also lost many recently, the universe for all its shit is reminding me to be present again.

We don’t forget feelings, a constant point of reference for our nervous systems, passed on through genes, pockets full of dust and sentimental objects, temperaments/ways of being, a certain way of not putting up with shit (that stuff moves through the generations). Along with the many, many people who’ve fallen to the violences of states and capital, your comrades killed with you, Sara Merdin and Serhilden, and infinite others by the Turkish fascist state using shells made here, in England. We will always channel revolutionary energy because we are constantly reminded of what’s at stake. We are extremely lucky to be here, to be alive, and we will fight for everyone who’s been made to feel like life can’t be beautiful, fucking magical, for them. For us. For you, always.

I wish I could forget this day, but I cannot. I’m also not sure which day I’m supposed to forget, we learned of your death two days after you’d died. News travels slowly in war, yet we were privileged enough to be allowed to grieve.

Our brave and much loved lesbian,
Most incredible woman,
Şehîd namirin.
Fuck the patriarchy.
Jin, Jiyan, Azadî.
Everything for Everyone Now.

Love you Anna, you absolute legend.

~ Hannah Pearce

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