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right, right, never use the word always, it’s overrated and often inaccurate. but there are some things that i can’t seem to avoid. no matter what bike i ride, the brakes are always shitty and nobody can fix ‘em. it’s ok, i’ve adjusted my riding style. slow down way before the red light. my room will always be messy and no amounts of threats or cajoling or withholding will change that. (although moving into a tiny studio apartment just might! we’ll see. don’t hold yer breath).
last night i was talking with a friend about how we experience love so much differently than we used to. romantic love, i mean. how we both used to be so obsessive and now things are so different. how the person is not the center but just part of a life. there was the unspoken sentiment hanging in the air that a certain heartbreak had made us both this way, that we were damaged, that we can’t love the way we used to because it just hurts too much.
the next morning i wished i’d said maybe what we think is the result of heartbreak is actually the result of maturity. there’s definitely multiple upsides to being this way, in fact i think i like it better. but, you know. there’s always that residual sadness. someday, maybe, we will be so used to it that we don’t even notice it’s there anymore.
I was just sitting on the couch crying at long island medium on netflix, of all things. crying for the simple reason that in every episode, the running theme in what the dead are trying to communicate to their living loved ones is: don’t feel guilty. don’t feel like you could have done more. you did all you could. our beloved dead, they just want us to be happy. I could have used that message a long time ago, but here it is, now. I suppose I will need it again, soon enough.
last week I saw n. for the first time in a decade, really. she’s one of my good friends from high school. we’d lost touch because she was in a supreme downward spiral. she pushed everyone away & then disappeared. I had no idea what happened to her, and her birth name is a very common one, so she’s hard to track on the internet. but then last spring we ran into each other on the street in Oakland. she lives in santa cruz, not far from here, and last weekend I was down there & I gave her a call. she picked me up & we drove to the beach, trying to encapsulate the past decade when there was so much to say.
I said, “I thought you were dead.” she says, “I really did almost die,” and then told me how she came to live. she is healthier than i’d ever seen her. we saw people swimming in the ocean and we decided to go. to the nude beach, because we didn’t have bathing suits. the pacific ocean, in October. I haven’t been in this body of water yet, it’s too cold up where I live. it was kind of too cold then, but the water helped us focus. I put my head under and let out an involuntary yelp and she laughed so hard. it was sunny and here we are, this girl I love so much, who I honestly thought was gone forever, I mean even when I saw her she acted like a ghost, it was impossible to talk, she wasn’t even there. and now she is here, and I am here, and we were there, and I got salt on my face like I was craving, and we were so cold but we didn’t mind, every nerve in our skin firing, the discomfort reminding us that we are still alive.
last week i went to the east coast for a few weeks to visit my old life. since i’ve been back in california, things have been really shitty for me. a conspiracy of conflicts with people near and far, a feeling of desperate futility and ineffectiveness at work, an upsurge of violence in an already violent neighborhood, being depressed, and a huge bucket of homesickness dumped on top have left me feeling like complete and utter shit.
i will never feel at home in the bay area, even though it’s a great place. it simply isn’t mine. i longed for the residential stability & solid friendships of my last city. longed for the only home i’ve had that felt like mine, that i gave up in a time of grief and insanity to someone who utterly does not deserve it. there is nothing i can do about this situation, and i am working on letting it go, but it’s SO hard. hard when you were finally able to relax, set down the burden you’d carried for twenty-six years, when you let yourself believe in something, and then it gets taken again. another reminder that nothing good will stay with you. that it’s always time to leave.
last night i felt the urge to re-read a zine i published 4 years ago, with a friend who was my prisoner penpal at the time. (he’s now out of prison, in college, in love, and doing great. i never see or hear from him anymore, except for as an occasional “like” on facebook.) i just reread it for the hell of it, but was struck by this paragraph, written in that house, when i had a fucking home. it struck me so hard, it was kind of exactly what i needed to hear:
lately i have realized that it’s okay to be homesick forever. it’s okay to be homesick and never go home. it’s okay to acknowledge that particular ache and keep on truckin’. pino (a cuban refugee and fellow former new yorker) said, “millions of people all over the world are displaced. they never get to fuckin’ go home, so why should we?” and that’s another sentence that stopped me with its truth. just stopped me right in my complaining tracks. homesick isn’t so bad. it means you’re doing new things, not stagnating, not accepting bullshit just because it’s familiar. homesick isn’t so bad when you promise to not forget the things a place has taught you.
and oh wow is that true. and oh wow did i need to hear that. thank you, past self, 27-year-old ocean, who could not even imagine what was going to happen, thank you for knowing what the 31-year-old part of yourself would need to know, thank you for thinking it and for writing it down in an accessible place. so that once i needed it, really needed it, i’d know where it was.
today was both a strangely emotional and emotionless day. I rode a plane, which is not something I normally do (ugh this computer is non-consensually capitalizing my “I”‘s). Even rarer for me is to take a long journey without having strong feelings about where I am going or where I am leaving. But as we took off from SFO, I wasn’t filled with sadness about going, nor was I filled with excitement and/or longing for where I was headed (new York, my home area). I felt completely neutral, which was weird and disturbing. I re-read “girl goddess #9″ by Francesca lia block, chosen solely because it was the lightest book in my collection that I hadn’t read in a while, and cried subtly throughout it. it triggered a lot in me. I remember the emotional resonance that book had when I first read it at sixteen, how much it felt like fucking oxygen, how it touched me in an intense place, how it created new pathways in my brain that I hadn’t been aware of. and re-reading it now, now that sixteen is half a lifetime ago, it’s almost like I cried because it reminded me of when I felt deeply, not because it actually made me feel deeply. you know?
my dad picked me up at the airport, which was nice of him (and also unusual–I generally fend for myself on public transit, i’m that kind of person, one that people don’t want to pick up anywhere because they know I can make it on my own, which is both good and bad). it was after midnight and I hadn’t eaten yet, so we went to the diner that I hung out in a lot as a teenager, because it was the only place open 24 hours (besides dunkin’ donuts). there were flat screen TV’s hanging everywhere, playing football, and the first thing I noticed when I sat down was two women–one in army fatigues, one in a shirt advertising the team playing–embracing on the football field. they had clearly been separated for a long time, and were clearly in love. they gazed into each other’s eyes, and the camera cut away before they kissed (OF COURSE) but you knew that it was happening. open dyke love, on a football field, shown at a diner in long island–I told the sixteen year old who lives within me: oh, the world has changed.
i moved a few weeks ago & it’s been mostly hard. the past 6 (6!!) years have been mostly full of residential stability. i had kind of forgotten how hard it is to be in a place that doesn’t feel like your home. how hard it is to give up somewhere that you love. i chose to leave my last house, and i don’t regret that decision, even though being in my new house has made my life more complicated.
still. i painted the walls purple, because it’s the color of creativity, queerness, transformative change. already, my life and my work are beginning to change in this new space.
i called amanda on my break from work. she just had a hard move too. we talked about what made us feel better in the new spaces and they were very similar: unpacking our books and seeing them on the shelf. re-arranging furniture. dancing. last night i lit a candle and turned the lights off. i danced in a small corner of the room and it was the first moment where it truly felt right. being there, i mean.
i had a bad day there the other day, one of those bad days that just folds in on itself until you are convinced that everything in your life is horrible and completely disposable. i was daydreaming about moving back to pittsburgh. life is so much simpler there. i know the odd quirks of the city like one would know the strange habits of a lover. i’m never going to know the bay like that. plus, i’m never going to afford a room in a house, in a neighborhood, quiet enough for me to sleep in. i missed my friends, community, a certain indescribable feeling.
my boyfriend picked me up & we looked at the water at the marina, which helped. i saw asher the next day and we talked about the ways that pittsburgh can fail us too, how it’s easy to romanticize but not always the best answer.
so. i don’t know what to say, really. i have no idea where i’m going in life but feel like i’m heading for a change. keep drawing the “death” card in tarot, which means intense change, a reworking of a prior life, something you can’t see coming. i also keep getting “the hanged man”, which generally means being stuck, resisting something that is inevitable, not learning from your past mistakes. i’m not sure what this is supposed to mean.
visiting my old home tonight, i was lying on the couch, talking to my boyfriend, as he sat across me in the chair we found in the trash, the one that cut his hand while we wrestled it into the car but that everyone loves so much anyway. he sighed, “you look so pretty right now,” and i asked him to take a picture so i could see. he took this picture, in the dim light, on my shitty cell phone. i don’t know if you’ll think it’s pretty. i don’t know if what he saw translated or not. it’s so hard to tell what other people see, if i am attractive or not, if any of it matters, where i will go, what i am doing, what i look like, where i am.
this morning, early on, i watched _____ leave the house and i realized, too late, that she was out to commit a self-destructive act, and like many self-destructive teens she needed someone to call her on it. but i realized too late. i was tired from staying up all night. excuses, excuses. she clattered out to that cab. it drove her away. i don’t know if i will see her again, or if it even really matters–just that she is so fucking smart and i am sad that her life is like this.
i am hoping that things aren’t always this way. i remember, a few years ago, when someone who has done a lot of fucked up shit to me sent me an email when i was reeling from some awful things–that they had done!–to say that they are sending “positive vibes [my] way”. it was then that i realize that wishing, and hoping, in lieu of direct action, is fucking bullshit. not to discount good energy–i do believe in it, i do–but it isn’t enough. it never will be enough.
i can take a tiny amount of comfort from the fact that several people have apologized for not intervening at various points of my own fucked up youth, and what they mentioned was never anything i remembered needing. what i needed was always something that nobody noticed, and the things that haunted other people were not really a big deal for me.
but, cool, i am 31 now and i dreaded getting older for so long but now i love it. now this thing is 15 years behind me, that thing is 21 years behind me, that thing is nearly 2 years behind me. i am growing, i am growing stronger and i am leaving things behind, always. that thing was 12 years ago and i was finally able to write about it. i am writing a book about the last 15 years. i want it to come out so desperately but i fear that when it does, i will be so slandered. the pain of having it not come out is equal to the pain of nobody ever reading it.
i came home on a crowded transbay bus, slept for 6 blissful pill-induced hours. woke up and went out for a pleasant evening with my lover, in which i could not stop beating myself up for my multiple failures as a human being. i should have said something. should have done something. i didn’t. i got a letter from ******** that scared me–not because of what it said, because of what it didn’t say. i fear that this will be the last i hear from them, that anyone hears from them. i went on facebook to make sure they’re still alive, because sometimes that is all you can do.
i remember one thing that saved me. in high school, my poetry teacher reading a poem that he’d written, about his students who romanticize death. there was a line:
there are no beautiful suicides,
only cold corpses with shit in their pants
and the end of the gifts.
i was just thinking about safety. about how my friends & i say “get home safe,” when we are parting. especially the women & the queerz. how we say it with a note of wistfulness, a hope, a fear that it might not come true. thinking about my clients, the ones i have connections with, the sadness in their voice when they say it to me. “be careful out there, sweetie. get home safe,” spoken by the witnesses, the survivors of the most terrible things you can think of. spoken with the heavy sadness, the knowledge that it’s not safe, that none of us really know anything about safety.
a new friend of mine didn’t make it home safely last week, died in a car, in the suburbs–supposedly safer than walking home in the city, but it didn’t protect her. i didn’t know her that well, but she was very loved by everyone who knew her. i felt so sure that she was going to do great things with her life. i can’t stop thinking about it.
today i was on the phone with e., one of the 8 or so people i refer to as my “best friend”. we have known each other since childhood, been tight since we were 15. we were reminiscing about the bad old days. i brought up m., the only other out gay kid at my high school, who we took on as a project. we drove him to the gay coffeehouse, and then when we dropped him off at his house, he wouldn’t stop trying to force himself on e. i was sitting in the back and i punched him on the side of his head, screamed, “get the fuck OFF HIM,” i was so timid back then, but i guess it was easier to stand up for someone else.
anyway. we were talking about him and e. said, “i heard that he died,” and i googled his name and it’s true. he died on new year’s. cause of death vague. my gut tells me suicide. this blog has turned into a memorial site & i didn’t mean it. it just seems that a lot of people are dying lately. i guess that’s what happens when you’ve lived for a while. it feels sometimes like my dad goes to funerals constantly. that’s partially because he knows a lot of people, & partially because he knows people through heavy drinking. & the longer you live, the more funerals you go to. or, in my case, when i am living 2,912 miles from the place of my birth, when most of the people i love are somewhere else, you light candles and write blog entries and try to figure it out as best you can. nobody in your daily life gets it so you keep as quiet as you can.
you ride home and the cars are so close. you know your days are numbered. you’ve always, always, always known that your time in this life is limited. the cars are so close by on your bicycle, they come so close but still you rise unharmed. this time. you know you won’t always be so lucky. gotta do what you can, so that when it’s your time to go, people will write nice blog entries. i hope they say, “she tried,” i hope they say, “she brought that aries fire, she inspired me,” i hope they say, “she wrote something good,” but i guess you can’t control what they say. i hope they play “the trapeze act” by iron & wine, then storytelling, then “i was here” by beyonce. i hope i have a little more time to say what i need to say. i hope i get to dance with my best friends again. i guess i don’t know. i guess i won’t, until it’s too late.
remember the last super moon? everything was so different then, a weekend full of riotous love and living super hard. living, living, living. it’s 1:30 am and i am vaguely drunk. spent hours after work walking up and down steep hillz, looking for a super moon dance party in the park, but i missed it due to not really knowing where i was going. it could have been magical, but i missed it. i had my own magic, sort of, on that long holy climb up, with good music a-playing and gorgeous houses all around me. made me nostalgic, a sad happy.
all of my tarot card readings as of late have similar cards coming up–most frequently, for those of you who care: the world, the moon, and queen of pentacles/artist of bones. sometimes right-side-up, sometimes reversed. the world is usually reversed, which is bad. queen of pentacles is good right-side-up but i often get it upside down. both the queen & the world reversed mean that things are slipping away from me. that i’m not going to be able to save them. i get a lot of mental illness cards too. (the moon, ten of feathers/swords) this could be just because of the paid work i do, or it could be because….i am mentally ill. and not doing too well. i have been on-and-off hysterical these past few dayz. been triggered majorly and nobody out here understands. i know that i will cope, know that i will feel different, know that things will change. but it often doesn’t feel that way.
i am glad that i wrote my last post, as it seems to have resonated with strangers on the internet. nervous that friends will read it and think that i am being passive-aggressive. this isn’t my intent; i just seriously have no idea how to bring it up. just saw a picture on facebook of a good friend of mine chatting casually with my abuser and i took it like an arrow to the heart. but i guess here isn’t the place to process it.
i read something here that i thought was really validating. it’s a piece calling out joe biel, founder of microcosm publishing & incredibly manipulative, emotionally abusive person (who i have not liked/supported for many years now, although that’s another story). :
“I’d been in relationships where the person used public shaming, threats of violence against me and my loved ones, physical abuse, and openly ridiculed and insulted me. For me, the experiences Joe has put me through have been far worse. It was so much easier for me to process a person becoming violent. Easier to acknowledge to myself, “yes, obviously this is abuse. No one deserves to be treated like this.” So much easier to see the red flags and to get out. Joe is so subtle. He pours on the charm while totally fucking you over.”
and, oh, i have nothing else to say in this public forum besides that i understand. and how i wish i didn’t.
also, i saw this image on my friend maranda’s
page. they took it in toronto and i really hope that they don’t mind me borrowing it, but i took it as an answer, a sign from the universe, something running with the theme of my last post:
people i love are still close with someone who has been abusive to me.
even though they witnessed the fallout. even though, in some cases, they witnessed it themselves. even though this person is in the process of being called out for being a sexual assaulter. they are still friends with him.
lately i have been writing them letters in my head. these letters all say, “how many people does he have to abuse before people stop standing with him?”
and today, that mind-letter got added to with a realization that i had, one so harsh, so sharp, that it had me doubled over on my bed, hyperventilating sobbing:
“why wasn’t i enough?”
why does there have to be another one for you to take me seriously? why have there been multiple people and still, by your friendship, you are giving your tacit seal of approval. why, when you saw what he was doing to me, when you saw the way he completely and utterly destroyed me for his own whims and convenience–why wasn’t that enough to cut ties?
why wasn’t i enough?
it’s so painful. it’s so painful, thinking about how i would like to include his name in this, so when people google him they know the full truth of him, not the nice guy persona that he projects, but the realization that, even if i did that, it’s highly unlikely that nobody would care. he’s got a “nice guy” persona and we are weird, we are radical, and no matter what we say he will not be sorry that he did things that have affected our entire lives. he will do them again. he will realize that he can abuse and still have friends and a community, because you all stand by him.
so how many, how many, how many people need to be abused. how many of us need to be sobbing till we can’t breathe, even years later, even in a whole new life. even though my life is notably better now, even though i have emerged from the tunnel and am making my dreams come true, this still has to weigh on me.
and no matter how much i live fierce and free and strong, the world will still reward him. that’s how the world works. the world is run by wifebeaters and abusers and rapists and sociopaths. the people who speak out wind up in institutions and the street and deep poverty. the victims get shunned. even in radical communities. even with good intentions. this doesn’t happen 100% of the time, of course, but it’s way too often.
i don’t know what i need now. i need to be enough.