onstage ghosts.


yesterday i had a strange and beautiful experience. i was angrily stomping around butler street on my lunch break when i saw a flyer saying that bitch (of bitch and animal fame) was playing at a coffee shop in the hood that night. i don’t normally listen to her music, but i had a feeling that it would be an interesting thing to see live, and i was right. i was thinking about people playing music in the same room as you, how that’s such a gift, and how it’s easy to overlook what a privilege that is, what a rare special thing.

so i went home & made curried lentils & wrestled with my computer (not literally) & then went back out for the show. i laid on the floor, in a lushly carpeted & pillowed show-space, surrounded by lesbians (half of whom i know–this is pittsburgh, after all). one thing that i hadn’t expected (but i think i knew subconsciously, which i think is why i felt compelled to go so strongly) is that bitch moves like axi, and makes the same face when she sings.

have you ever known anyone who died? i think it’s not an uncommon experience to remember your dead loved one as a series of still pictures; not an animate human anymore. i think it’s not uncommon to forget their voice, forget how they moved, forget what their presence was like. partially because remembering hurts too much and partially because there’s just nothing left to remind you. and so here i was, sitting twenty feet from this woman who looks and moves so much like this other woman; something i thought i would never see again. and here it is, right in front of me.

in the between-song banter, bitch was talking about how she found a scary lump in her breast and spent a whole month totally freaking out, convinced that she was going to die, and how she made a promise to herself that if she was okay that she was going to live really fiercely, that she was going to love really hard and dance really fast and have really hot sex and do something that made a difference in her life and the lives of others. i had a very similar experience last year with a scary lump in my neck & a very similar realization stemming from it. and so after the show i went up to her & said that i’d had the same experience, and how it lit a fire under my ass. i said, “after i found out i was okay, i wrote a book, because i realized i didn’t have any more time to waste. and you need to let the lump be a gift.” her eyes got really wide, like she really needed to hear it. “what is your book about?!?!!” she yelled, but then she got pulled away by someone else.

so i wrote my email address on her mailing list, and then drew a bunch of arrows pointing to the other side of the page, and wrote “p.s. my lump-inspired book is about kale and compost piles and group-house love and the families we make when our own throw us away…” [which is not really an accurate description, but it’s what i could think of at that moment. i get flustered trying to explain my book.] i was chatting with this lady i know and then bitch came back and said, “wait! so what’s it about?” and i showed her what i wrote and she yelled, “I LOVE YOU!” and gave me a big hug, and the whole thing was so exactly what axi would have done. it was fucking eerie, and so unexpected, and so so beautiful. i didn’t cry; i went to the lesbo bar with some acquaintances of mine & then rode my bike home super fast, feeling triumphant and safe and loved.

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