This Is Us

The truth of your life is always there — and the more you hide from it, the worse it haunts you

Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Illustration: lupashchenkoiryna/Getty Images

The cops swarmed toward us.

Have you ever been in a riot?

There were screams, but there was also silence. Enough silence to hear bones crack.

Out of that memory grows a profound connection.

In my life, I’ve wandered into some wild places. I’ve taken long drives in the night across bridges and thought to stop and just end it. But I found help—a doctor who spent a lot of time with me and talked me through the rough bits. It was a relationship I treasured, but it also reached a place where I needed to move on.

At our…


The aftermath of the pandemic is brutal, especially for creative workers in our cities.

In 2019, 61 million people visited New York City, and they didn’t come to watch rich people fly out to the Hamptons. They came to dine in restaurants staffed by beautiful young people, painting by day, serving by night. They came to watch dancers in A Chorus Line, or hear a sweet sax in Bar 51. They came to feel the epic vitality of the world’s #1 city.

What they didn’t see is the daily struggle of living in a city that was built by the creative spark of a thousand pens, sings the songs of a century of Broadway…


We light the Olympics torch in a changed world.

I used to dream of being in the Olympics. As a teen, I started running long-distance. Every day it was my favorite time of day, putting on my shoes and running for hours, getting lost in cities, across bridges, through parks, down market lanes and hidden alleys. I dreamed.

My dreams were of competitions against runners from all over the globe, measuring myself against others. I never thought I was the best. I just wanted to experience running with the best; to feel their energy, their perfection of the human form.

That’s the enchantment of the Olympic dream. What limits…


Florida is gone. The Sunshine State becomes the Pirate State, as the Keys advance north to the Georgia border. Flooded Florida, already a haven to the financially and morally corrupt succumbs to total pirate lawlessness as America abandons the remaining dots of land slowly sinking from sight.

Texas is gone. After decades of corrupt privatization of infrastructure, Texas is left defenseless against vicious hurricanes to the south and advancing heat domes to the west. The gun culture takes over, turning the state back to the 19th Century of outlaws and gunslingers. Only this time, the frontier features automatic weapons.

Nevada…


You’re always wrong. You walk on egg shells. Your goal is to make them happy. You try a million different things. Money, presents, expensive vacations, houses, cars, gifts, letters, even generosity, compassion, patience.

You want to please, but there’s no pleasing, there’s only a constant blaming, demeaning, bullying, fault finding of everything you do. If this describes you, the chances are good you’re trapped in a relationship with a narcissist, and until you escape, your life will be a living hell.

But how do you escape? And what price will you pay? There’s no good answer here. You will pay…


As the masks drop, what world are we left with? What consequence do we carry with us? What has gone forever?

President Biden is fond of saying America is back. But back to what? Is getting back to where we were possible? Or even desirable?

Stevie Wonder once said he never wanted to let his fears put his dreams to sleep. But our fears can sometimes lead us to new dreams. Those among us who built worlds of old dreams want to hasten our way back to them. But many people are stopping in their tracks. Wait a minute. We…


I can’t help but see the Florida condo collapse as symptomatic of the rising climate crisis. These things are hard to quantify, but a building on a beach, on a porous lime stone, shifting bedrock, taking hits from serial storms, is not built to last.

The Florida economy relies in large part on condos. You have citrus trees and condos. You have a large population of seniors who are not invested long-term. You have low-lying marshland surrounded on three-sides, by ocean.

I like Florida. Not Condo Florida, but the Everglades, the primal wildlife, the ocean light. The locals are interesting…


This is what I learned voting in the NYC Primary.

One citizen one vote — multiplied by twenty-five. I take my ballot and walk across the lunch room in the middle school on 76th. I’m doing one of my favorite things. Voting. Making a choice. Excercising my duty as a citizen.

I pull out my iPhone and open up the Notes app. There’s lists. Mayor. Comptroller. Public Advocate. Borough President. City Council. And under each category there are five names.

A month before the election I hate ranked choice voting. I bitch about it on social media. Ranked choice voting is more votes than I need.

I’m an engaged, careful…


Practicing Catholicism in America is a labyrinth of conflict and faith.

I am both a Catholic and an American. I believe in the essential American principles, I believe in human rights, gender rights, women’s rights, racial justice, all citizens equal.

I also have tried to abide by my Catholic faith. That’s the greater challenge and I fail constantly. But if there’s any tenet I’ve gotten from my faith, it’s do not judge, do not throw stones, love your neighbor and leave the rest to God.

During the last two decades, following Scripture has not been the issue. Following priests is…


Two kids, really teens, we make our way south from Johannesburg, Jo’burg, eGoli, City of Gold, south past Bloemfontein, south along the N-1, the destination is Cape Town. I don’t remember why. ‘Why’ is not that important when you’re 18. We have a car, an old Austin-Healey station wagon. We have guitars. We have a tube of Smarties candy. What else do you need on a drive through the Karoo?

The drive is the point. I’m still young, but the years ahead always deliver the same desire. I want to move. I want to drive. I want to see things.

Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher lives and works in New York City. www.christophermchale.com

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