in minneapolis, walking down the street, to my zine reading in fact, wearing a dress. two teen boys. i’m walking by them. “hey fag.” i say nothing. maybe it’s not about me, even though i’m the only one there. louder: “fag!” no response, still. “fucking faggot!” “fag!” “faggot!” “fag!” louder and louder.
i’ve been called a faggot multiple times in my life, both in a loving way and in a not-so-loving way. i am tall and androgynous. often read as a man, but i dress brightly and have a feminine walk. this means, to the world, that i am a faggot. usually getting this name hurled at me is kinda funny, maybe a little threatening. i have the get out of jail free card–womanhood! so ha ha, the joke’s on you.
except this time it wasn’t so funny. this time i could hear the real hatred in their voices. bored midwestern boys with nothing to do. why not. i walked faster. i expected to see them behind me. steeled myself for a fist. what do i do? do i say that i’m a woman. and in some ways, what does it matter.
nothing happened. i walked and went to my reading. i sat on a chair surrounded by smiling faces and read my stories to people. they clapped and cheered and you’d almost never believe that those two boys hated me. you’d almost never believe that lots of people do.
for the most part, zine tour has been going swimmingly. it’s been exhausting, exhilarating, exciting, extreme. fun & obnoxious & hilarious & heartbreaking. i’ve met pretty much nothing but nice people. i kinda wanted to go home throughout, but now i feel like i’ve really reached my groove and could travel forever.
i thought it would be easier to travel while heartbroken, because i wouldn’t want to go home. i was wrong. i still want to go home sometimes & it is compounded with remembering that i don’t really have a home right now. remembering that soon i will be moving out of the place i’ve lived in for years (my choice, but still). soon i will have to see my ex-partner and his new lover out & about. i will have to deal with his presence in my small community.
i’ve been crying a lot. in public, even (although not in front of anyone i’m staying with, thank gawd). it’s embarrassing. i can always tell when my ex is with his new lover–partially because my ex stops texting me and partially because i just KNOW. it feels awful. that is when i cry the most, that is when i can’t sleep, that is when i lie awake remembering that i was not enough. remembering what i had and feeling like i’ll never get it back, with my ex or with anyone. i know these are common things to think about when one has a breakup. i know that i am strong, independent, a survivor. i know i will probably be fine eventually & if not fine than i will probably just be able to deal with it & keep living & isn’t that the important thing. i wonder who out of our group of friends will still support me. i wonder when my ex and i will stop kissing each other hello. i wonder when he’ll stop calling me, or answer my phone calls. i wonder when it won’t be okay to hold him for more than a few seconds, to fit my face in the space between his shoulder blades at night. i wonder how i will be able to keep on going when that happens.
this is only a small part of my life. there is so much else going on. but, it dominates. it’s at the forefront. it stops me from enjoying this tour as much. people have been so sweet and helpful, regardless of whether or not they know what is going on. jami and i were sitting by the shore of lake michigan in chicago, watching the waves (are they still called waves when it’s a lake & not the ocean? i don’t know these things) crash. we were talking about astrology and i said something like, “the bad thing about arieses is that it’s easy to like us and so hard to love us,” and she held my hand, even though i wasn’t sad when i said it, even though i was just stating what i have observed from myself & other aries peeps. she held my hand & didn’t let it go, said, “loving people is hard,” and we lay there, in the sunshine, in chicago, so far away from the one that i love beyond the hardness, from the one who loves me despite my impossible aries-ness, and every other thing that’s wrong with me. it was a beautiful moment, one that gives me strength & hope, even after everything.