Reclaiming Sexual Agency

“I do not wish women to have control over men; but over themselves” -Mary Shelley

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I admire the wax sitting crusted in your ear and the old makeup curdled in the corner of your eye. I want to smell your stale breath that is cultivated from your intense sadness, or indulgence in fast-paced inspiration or reminisce. After long-drawn tears and neglect of the physical self. I want to inhale it all. I want to graze your grease-clad skin. Get my fingers caught in your tangles-the product of abandonment of meticulous and hideous manicuring, displaced caring. My soul flies solo like a bubble. In that time, we were all just soul-bubbles celebrating each other. Out of the lines as in she sleeps in his bed with her and him and they all love each other and take care of each other and they all dance with each other and tell stories of girls that slipped through their fingers, of lingering pain. And I will brush your hair back and whisper “shhhh, don’t dwell on her, you beautiful bubble.” A young boy contained in that big man. I never knew men before, from the inside. From within the home, as innocent and eager human beings. They have always been external to me: an opposite end of the spectrum; a contrast against which my character is cast and which upon I must play. I am the conductor of my own life-puppet. I must manipulate myself within the constant mold of him and I am always changing and always feeling and they are the column. I am subordinate, and they are calculating and self-indulgent, but right nonetheless. They are greater than vulnerability. This is what I have always thought. Yet in instances I get whiffs of their simple, modest desires- in insects, in Shakespeare, in learning Chinese- and these seemingly obscure interests are so beautiful. For that I want a son, to watch him grow and see his insecurities. To see his tentative approach to his interests. To see that males are not always sure but that they are as human as I. They are as introspective as I, and they turn back upon themselves in solitude and ask, “Is this who I want to be? Am I in touch with my soul? I have a distinct soul that craves funny sober things. Have I protected those that I love? How can I ensure to not harm others but to make the world a more beautiful place?” I am sorry men, that I have always underestimated you. Still, now, and more aware of my feminist side than ever, I have to remind myself that women are not more substantial human beings. I must respect you by respecting myself. It is not fair that I give you my vacant body. The way I’ve had sex presupposes my lack of faith in you. My main link to men has been a sexual one, and for that I thought you were never more, than a predator. I am the sought. I am the one with the legs, in the mini skirt, from which you draw dirty and guilty images. And in that moment, in which you see me not for my soul but as a sexual object, it establishes you as a determined force- fixated solely on something void of care and understanding and vision. I might as well be a mattress with a hole. This always made me sad. Although I did not detect the sadness it caused me until recently. And I must reorient myself to see you more clearly by seeing myself more clearly.

The face of a foul creature arose on the black canvas of my inner eyelids and rudely disrupted my descent into sleep. He resembled one of Ursula’s scraggily urchins. You engaged those squealing awakening noises that endear ones you love and make those you detest even more grotesque. Facial skin imprinted by winkled bed sheets you would strain to kiss me, with ridiculously squinted eyes and puckered lips that resembled more of an asshole as it encased your foul and forthcoming morning breath. How, could I have time and again, brought myself to kiss them back? Further, to answer to “baby” with “baby” and “I love you too?” How could my surface self have been so estranged from my inner self? The fundamentals of my childhood knowledge buried so deeply under a pile of gray disposal that I couldn’t have revived it if I tried, or known to?

And yet, there he lay, the antithesis of evolution. If my adrift mind hadn’t recognized it, my body should have. The creature who literally resisted every opportunity to inform his intellect, feed his heart, enrich his experience, diversify his perspective. Stuck, in a monotonous game of house. Game pieces made out of consumer luxuries and the certainty that his Audi would be right where he had left it when he came back, and that his bed sheets would never suffer a food stain. Without inquiry, without that eagerness for life, scowling at the subcultural expression. Sulking, with that hunched back and meek physical constitution behind his oversized steering wheel. Pulsing to the hum-drum of the most unoriginal music. That which imposes a death sentence upon the art itself, and which locked him into his predictable life; reinforced and legitimated his shallow approach to it. Growing drowsy at intellectual conversations, oversimplifying any passion I tried to express, prematurely landing any notion I had just set into flight. Yet in retrospect I get the sense that I did know, all along, in some lantern whose flame still glowed at the base of my heart, that he was wrong for me. That I was disabling the essential part of myself by committing myself to him. Now, free from this context I am not regretful. But what a close call. And it makes me suffer to think of the multitudes of women trapped in such relationships, either because they cannot see their contexts, or because they have locked themselves into a more permanent commitment than I had.

How could I have repressed myself so deep as to kiss such a detestable thing? In fact, convince myself that I loved him? The antithesis to everything I loved, everything that I cherished as my own. He stunted his own evolution. A lethal injection to the universe’s gift and there I was, gushing over him. Today I would regard him as the bile you hawk out to reject the residue of epidemic. The inseminator of internal disease and demise. How could I love someone who exterminated the buds of my passion? My impassioned inquisition he made a mockery of; tar-heeled into the dirt like the butt of a used cigarette. And thus my recollection of him mocks me. That I would call him my baby, that I would crawl into the half-moon posture of his sleeping body at night. That I would exchange saliva with him. That I would put his excremental part into my orifices. Let his smell get on my clothes, and linger there. How could I have waded so far out to sea? The navigatress has lost her compass. And in fact, after so long stranded in unfamiliar waters, forgotten there was a shore she needed to find her way back to. It makes me sick to my stomach now when I think of the abuse I have inflicted upon my body. The strangers pummeling their unfamiliar, potentially infected, and vulgar barrels into my body. My fragile and futile body that is the only shelter and incarnation of my soul. That can be extinguished in an instant. I used to disregard it, think it no more relevant to protect than the bike I had left in the rain. But alas, I would find that when I mounted it again, the chain would be plastered stuck. In fact, the teeth that had punctured my delicate pink skin injected venom, the external had breached the internal, sending a stiffness over my muscles like a winter freeze and arresting their pulse. Too, was my spirit paralyzed.

Brian is not a bad person. I have to believe that somewhere deep within there were buried, fragments of a spirit shattered early in life that were never restored. But sometimes I wonder if he was a person at all. Sometimes I question whether he could have been a test sent to me by God. That sounds so horrible, and I don’t believe that really, but as the epitome of the sexually objectifying male, like a vampire he grew stronger only as I grew weaker. Like Voltemort fleeing when Quirrel was extinguished, I can’t imagine him persisting on his own.

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Evil only exists if it finds a host weak enough to sustain him. Heroin needs an addict in order to come to life and even then, it is the addict that is made a fool. In my memory Brian stands as nothing more than a reflection of how lost I had once been, of how low my self-respect had plummeted.

Embarking on the world I became increasingly aware of this silhouette of myself that protruded from me, preceding my every step. And the words of the man facing me would ricochet off this preceding girl and I would reside inside, unpenetrated. She was the smiling reflection of what he wanted to see. Like a mime she would premeditate and fulfill the gestures he extended towards her. Answer his questions as instantaneously as they escaped his lips, anticipate and yield to the dips and spins. Like the invisible female dance partner, she read the visual cues and would laugh with the unheard joke, images-4

reciprocate the unregistered compliment, and sharply, audibly inhale at the unstimulating kiss. On autopilot she glazed the path through which they skated. But why? Whyyyy?? I bury my face in my hands as I recall finger-feeding compliments like chocolates. All the while seeing myself from above, a Marilyn Monroe wiping the track marks from his lower lip with puckered thumb, putting it into my mouth and delectably sucking it clean, “mmm,” wink. The image of my former self disgusts me. Mistaking my routine for authenticity, these poor sods would sink back, ribs deflating in lustful relief. They would bombard me with affection, gifts, dates, kisses and I squirmed inside, enduring them like the pick nick butter does the pestering flies. And paint the face of pleasure upon mine like a clown. Yet yesterday the proud clown was humbled, as I drew a chest marked “private” from underneath my bed. Tears down the pane of my façade distorted smile, sent makeup smearing as I read letter upon letter of chicken scratch, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone.” What have you done, Hallie?

But this is what objectification breeds. As long as the Italian waiter, claiming to lead me to the bathroom, instead lures me into the kitchen, throws me to the middle of a pit of taunting, pruning, plucking and drooling hounds, how should I remember that they are not all as such? Snarls from the sidewalk “mmm, Shakira let me taste your cunt.” The longstanding childhood fantasy of a castle destructed. Reconstructed in your ideal image, men. But it is to your own disservice. The spirit of the castle has vacated. On bended knee I will quench your carnivorous appetite. But when your belly is full, and fatigue overcomes you, and you yearn to return to the sleeping benevolent bodice encasing heartbeat that keeps your bed warm, there will be no such woman. You will have ravished them all.

When did I take the reigns? When did I bait myself? Make vultures of the boys who sat unassumingly on the cherry blossom branch?  Mistake the eyes of the man who glanced unsupposingly from the corner of the bar for shark eyes, and turn myself into the tantalizing flesh?

 sexy-jessica-rabit-fanart-illustration-01Tease them like a toro flag with flailing skirt bottom? Tricky hands contorted like a belly dancer’s, set saliva on my bottom lip to be caught by wisps of reflected lantern light? Position my shaking bottom in his line of sight? And when a shadowy figure would appear in my orbit, unfamiliar yet resemblant enough every other taller-than-me courter in the dark, I would not be surprised. I had known exactly what I was doing.

But what did this man do to lay claim to me in the first place? Make me feel obliged to undertake this procedure? He had merely made eye contact, and without agenda perhaps. But my habit preceded this consideration. I seduce even the uncorrupted souls. The bearded boy-men who do not prematurely offer to buy me a drink. I presume my attractiveness to them. Like the parent that holds her child’s hands and guides them as he traces his first alphabet letters, I carry the boy’s unsteady hands down the zipper-seal of my blouse, straddle the unsuspecting lap. “Study porn” my friend had advised me. “Study straight one-on-one porn and you will learn the right way to have sex.” But naturally that conditioning only extended the separation between mind and body that was inflicting this physical numbness as I ventured deeper into the act. And eventually the silhouette, once I was in the bedroom, protruded to the point of becoming an entirely second entity. The automated porn-star imitator with arched back, overly exaggerated hip thrusts, overly enthusiastic moans, words of a language I had never heard my voice utter, in a voice that was not my own. And in the midst of a performative act I did not recognize, my soul fled. It fled to some distant place where there was no sound, there was no feeling. And night after night I floated in a soft, white, silent cloud where I was a little girl, and my mother was there, and my grandmother was there.

What fascinates me most as I look back on it now is that moment, time and time again, that I hooked myself by the glance at the bar, the fraternity party, the ice cream store, the airport gate. How easily, readily, and instantaneously I gave way to the look of the other. This alone could spark an entire yearlong relationship. At this reoccurring moment I limited my agency to only that which I expected him to want of me. Expectation is the key, because it is pure conjecture. I heard not his words. If they had been words of the boy with the sister, raised by a single mother, who deeply loved and respected women, and mustered words from a place deep within him, words he bestowed upon me and expected me to plant in the soil of my heart and water with all the respect and patience I knew, I never knew. I never considered that possibility. To deflect the sex-oriented predator was all I understood. There was no communication in these relationships. I did not register his words as the two –dimensional verbal representation of a three-dimensional feeling that was real and swelling inside him, begging a communicable name. There was no recognition of a spark within him that affirmed his humanity; as human as I. I did not feel his raindrops pellet my soil, seep in and nourish the seed I harbored within. I did not give it sustenance to grow; an idea we had collaborated with shared faith to raise, no creation with two hands. Just the feeble mirage of a plant. I learned in a school field trip while in Italy that Irises are a-sexual.

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They are called a-sexual yet they possess and require both male and female reproductive organs to generate. And there was me, the female-oriented Iris lacking the male counterpart, and with the delusion of self-sustaining capacity, I inhibited my own survival. The dead plant that thinks it’s alive, wilting and pathetically clinging to the garden fence. But the fake plant can only get so real looking before being exposed as a fraud, and realizing itself as one. I had shortsighted myself into believing that I had agency. But in reality, I had merely carved out this small pocket of agency within a larger gray void of powerlessness. What I mistook for power was the power to woo him, presenting my body only in a way that would appeal to the predator’s scheming eye. In reality I had already sold my voice to the sea queen for a pair of pasty white legs. I built myself this cell from the inside. I am its prisoner. There is no victory in fooling these unsuspecting boys. I objectify myself more consequentially than they do. I am better at it than any one man, cause I’ve lived through it over and over again. In an instant, in the futile and fleeting lifespan of a fantasy, the gratification wore off. And relationship after relationship, the climax of its rewarding effect grew smaller and smaller. The cycle tighter and tighter until it collapsed, until the misconstructed shoelace loop swallowed itself and released into a flatline. And with each sexual encounter, in which I was increasingly emotionally distanced from the other person, I enacted more and more drama. What would it take for me to feel stimulation? Like a film with a weak foundation and uncomplex characters necessitates a bombardment of shocking stimuli to evoke a reaction from the desensitized crowd. And I felt like I was scraping the bottom of an ashtray, nails screeching against the clotty metal surface scavenging for inspiration amongst dead subject matter. The effort becoming increasingly futile, and mocking me with every attempt. The desperation becoming more apparent. I needed to snap out of it. I needed a jolt of inspiration, a serious kick that would jar me out of this spiritual stasis and cast me out into a new reality. I must be doing something wrong, I finally thought. There has to be more to life than this. And then came Maria.

I think she reached into my heart, grabbed hold of its two atriums, sustained only by a withering strand. Their pulsation confirmed their glimmer of life, and she held them together until their fibers grew together anew.  Maria, the translucent and elusive angel that sweeps in at the exact right time. The one that appeared like a mirage on the edge of the tangled, dead, overgrown garden. The one I chased out of there, breaking the shackles of snare around my ankles. Like a tinkerbell that restores each passing object of the world to color, you brought the world back to life for me. The storm cloud that plagued my cityscape, drowning it in murky gray water; water swam with flakes of battered drywall, enveloped in a coldness where cigarette smoke smells hopeless and depressed. Maria sent a beam of light piercing through its womb, igniting its origin and dispersing it outwards. You injected life into the unfertilized pod at the Iris base. And Suddenly the world inverted itself, so that all shadows turned to highlights. So that all gestures tainted with distain became benevolent. The world was not dead, reeking with the stench of dead things, but strands of breeze that glittered with the scent of nectar swept through the littered and piss-stained alleyways. The scene from the Secret Garden comes to mind when the dead and abandoned plants reawaken with the coming of spring. They are reinjected with the serum of life.

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Brown turns green and sagging stands up. Frozen water becomes a moving, bubbling brook that makes a trickling sound. The beggar is not scary, but as human and feeble as you. The boy is not your enemy, but a mirror image of you, the cautious and unsure you. The child in the grownup body. The lost game piece navigating its way through a foreign landscape of overgrown beach grass.

She sang of the beauty of modest boys. Sang of them like old Irish poets wrote about girls. Regarded them with the innocence and delicacy of such and I wondered, could it be true? Could boys truly be beautiful? And that notion, and my decision to believe in it, inflicted the crumbling of the fortress. The one I had constructed around my heart that kept all men out. Men were reduced to boys, and me to the girl I was in my youth. The girl that crawled through the rhododendron bush and relished the slimy path of a slug’s climb along my thumb. The dancer in the living room, the chap stick eater in dark. Maria restored the element of magic, wonder, and mystery inherent in everything. The world I used to know so well but had forgotten came back to greet me. The third dimension receded again from the pale two-planed reality I had stranded myself in.

You make holy all that you touch, Maria. The respect and honor with which you utter words strikes a pedal in the internal skeletal system of the grand piano. All of your words are drenched with conviction. When Maria speaks you hear the warm and cradling underbelly of authenticity. Like antique furniture, there is a life lived in the structure of her words. They reach out to their listeners. Tassels. Feelers extend to touch the other’s gawking eyes. Never have I felt so thought about as when you say my name. If I could dive into your throat as you spoke it, inside you I would find a crystal ball, with the image of myself suspended within it and revolving like Leonardo’s Vitruvian man.

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Your throat; the umbilical chord with which you draw from this womb and translate such imaginations. In their ascent they pass through transformative planes: trachea, uvula, tongue, and finally lips that cast them out as words that hang in the air like ornaments upon a star. Thus, you sing my name with a tone worthy of its cerebral origin. The ding of the xylophone reverberating through the air, perfect pitch.

When I would let my head fall backwards, my eyes roll to the back of their sockets late at night basking in memories of you, the closest I have ever elevated myself to being pure thought, I would see myself traveling down a strand of thought like an electron down a cable wire to find you atop the congealed surface of crème brule. A granule of sugar, a crystal, a glacier amongst the matrix of miraculously conceived, perfect, and symbiotic chemical configurations. You embrace incoming light and, like a prism, possess the mysterious and magical power to internalize it, transform its physical composition, and cast it back out as a spectrum of color. Literally, you hold the mystifying power within you to reconstruct physical reality as we all know it. I can’t comprehend this miracle you perform each day, in everything you do. The raindrop, the close-range view of a sunbeam through fluttery eyelashes, the cd’s microscopic canyons and ridges that send rainbows to play on child’s bedroom walls. Down to such a miniscule level do you operate Maria, does your blessing emanate. Eyeballs emerging practically out of their sockets and I understood the concept of dilating pupils, literally, taking in more of the world, eagerly inviting in more of its stimulating agents. You do not strut with the false air of arrogance and entitlement that possesses most of us complex creatures. Rather, you remember the larvae, the webs of the cotton fibers that are some hippy spider’s hammock-home. If the canyons and ridges of your fingerprint could break down all that you touched to their lowest common denominator, we the world, would become but a spectrum of color.

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You remember that we are all made of the same simple ingredients. The little patterns inherent in the big patterns. In your presence I feel the embrace of the world. I feel cradled, accompanied, loved.

Take me back to that day. The day I saw you emerge from the crowd of faceless people. You were the solitary face in a blur. When I am with you, you are the only one in the room Maria. You consume my periphery. And if I am not facing you, the thought of you elsewhere is filling the space in my view. Skin like honeysuckle with embers that glow from within. “I believe in your eyes,” said my teacher, off on a tangent about what it means to say “I love you”. And still basking in the afterglow of a weekend with you, barely had caught my breath, twinkling with inspiration, the words touched me so. That is exactly what I feel when I look into your eyes. I believe in them. I believe in the life that resides within them and peaks back out from your pupils. I believe in every gesture you make and gasp you take, every hickupy and up-cast laugh, sigh. You resemble the sun, Maria. You resemble all the sources of beauty that superficially, you don’t look like. It’s like telling someone that seeing them is like coming home. How can a person be a place? But you transcend the limits of such trivial categorization. That is how I know you are real. When you are the oxygen I breathe and when you radiate the love that warms me, the light that illuminates my gloom to possibility, the space in which I could crawl up in the fetal position and fall peacefully asleep. You embody my mother, my father, my daughter, my sister, my brother, my friend, my lover You are the composer of a new reality. A grand symphony that swells and devours the pitiful and monotonous, broken record I used to dance to with false pride.

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And now I find myself in the Coatlicue state… agitated out of a spiritual paralysis. The pilgrim finds herself wandering in unfamiliar territory. Knocked off her axis, without a compass to realign herself, she feels vulnerable and overwhelmed by the multitude of indistinguishable potentialities. And she will feel consternation, at being so stranded. But the universe works her healing hands invisibly and slowly, undetected in the veil of inconspicuous moments. One night in the middle of the summer, in the middle of Montana, I looked at myself in the mirror and was surprised to see that my forehead was still intact. I expected it to have exploded by now, from all the pressure against my brain, sending shards of my skin flying through the air like shrapnel. And yet, there it was. And I realized that my seamless complexion revealed nothing of the torrent of bees in my brain.

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Swarming it as if it were their nest. My placid voice did not portray the screech of a steam engine that rang incessantly inside my ears. I had dived into the internal galaxy of my self, and was delving too deep perhaps. The subconscious was rising to the surface and revealing itself, like sea urchins from the murky water. And I felt myself being swallowed by a black hole. It’s gravitational force field consuming me amongst the light in its path, never to release it from its grip. And with each morsel of light swallowed, its force field becomes stronger, its appetite more gluttonous and unrelenting. It took the on the countenance of a monster, on the prowl for more sustenance. And I, its prey, felt its greedy grasp wringing me of my self-control. This was my affliction. Should I abandon the search for my Freudian associations, memories, feelings, thoughts, and representations? Did I breach the boundary of my human ability and tread into unauthorized territory? And I thought about how it must be a defense mechanism, the way God designs our brains to only be aware of a small portion of its content at any one time. Because if we were aware of all of it at the same time, we would certainly go crazy.

I am paralyzed by confusion. Too many opposing ends attacking the same origin. And in the midst of a sea of possibilities, each one indistinguishable from the other, I choose one at random. But when I heard my response exit my mouth its nature was unfamiliar. And as I tried to project the person I thought I wanted to be, I felt it undercut by who I really was, and visa versa. The different parts of myself were tripping the others as they were in motion. And I could not eloquently be one identity or another. An unintelligible mess, I was.

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So how, do I love my body not for what I expect men to feast on it for? How do I develop an original love for it? Love for the leg muscles that propel me across Memorial Bridge, the sweat that seeps out of my pores and stains the lining of my underwear with the stale odor of fermenting fruit, of toxin expelled? The way the wiry armpit hair stands erect after long exertion? How my pores dilate and seem to smile as wide as my mouth extends with exasperation. I love my body no more than I do when I return from a run. I massage my calves adoringly saying “thank you body, I love you sooo!” stretching my legs feeling their gratitude. The sensation is like their reciprocation of my praise. I love you tooo!! They screech like a squirming waking toddler. “We have connected, you have tended to us, we missed you!” they say. “You DO love us!” With outstretched arms they beckon a hug. And in such a short-lived window of unity of heart and mind I contemplate whether sex and spirituality are mutually exclusive. I find that in periods of vivacious childlike inquiry, when the synaptic connections of my mind are firing like shooting stars and I feel the world’s warm bear-like embrace, that the desire for sex completely eludes me. I jump up from the couch to peer into the screen of the computer to more acutely observe the facial expression of Eddie Vedder singing “Porch” on MTV unplugged thinking “Wow, it is as if he tapped in to some current of the universe, that he tuned into some frequency out of the normative range of hearing and is surfing atop its swell.” Music and visuals playing off each other. The strings push and pull, bend and yield, the tide ebbing and flowing. In such periods of inspiration it is as if I am constantly peering out the window in awe of the leaves that have suddenly repossessed this brilliance of color. Suddenly I understand what every artist is trying to communicate. Why we perceive willow trees as grandmothers and grandfathers. I understand why we love water so much, the hydrating substance that sustains us and from which we are 90% comprised. How each ecosystem works together and how we need them all to be a complete rainbow. The spectrum of light and dark, of hot and cold, of fertile and baron.

One time I wrote on a paper mache vagina on the “Young Feminists” table at the student center that my favorite part of my body was my hands. And I see them dance in front of my face as I lavishly decorate my words with strokes through viscous air. Their veins stand flushed as I write this in the humid cocoon of midnight corner. The strands of lightest blond hair that fall in and frame my vision, curl around my chin. My second toe that looks a little like ET’s index finger, the arch of my foot proportion to the convex arch of my calf, that unflexed, bobs with the buoyancy of my uvula. That retracts as my laughing tongue contracts. The way my nails feel as they graze the crop field of the base of my head of hair, dig into that terrain as soft as the day I was born. I like the pattern of hair-direction from the inner to the back of my upper leg. The white ones on my lower back that stand like corn stalks when singular nail grazes upwards on my forearm. I love the sound of my laugh when I laugh uninhibitedly, and the protrusion it inflicts upon the vein that then runs down my forehead like a dark river. And the sound of my breath filtered through poky cross-crossed nostrils in fading to sleep. The way my thoughts weave in and out of each other in that time. I do love myself so much. But can that be the me that is kissed by midnight lips? Delectably consumed by admirer’s eager mouth? I want it to be the same person. I want the me I know to be simultaneously aroused as she is modest, childlike, inquisitive, innocent. Let sex not be tainted by guilt, by this air of sinful deed. “Dirty, raunchy, naughty.” These are the adjectives with which our society depicts sex. The kind of sex that functions like an action movie, lacking complex plot and characters. The kind that exploits dramatic elements to puncture the placid surface of the bored spectator’s attention. This is the kind of sex that prays on wayward souls. The corrupted alley dog, brainwashed to fight, salivating at rotten flesh, dangling just beyond its metal cage. This is the kind of sexual identity we women are funneled into like cattle. Souls vibrating with potential, skin radiant with health reduced to the two-dimensional function of fuck receptacles. When we exhaust the life of our function as cum depositories we are expired, expelled to the back alley trash pile with other wasted carcasses.

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That is why we must establish our self worth as unique from our utility to men. Because we will outlive the lifespan deemed useful by them (only until menopause). If we remember that all women were children once, that at the onset we peddled vigorously along the convex horizon of the earth on our tricycles, diving into it as we pleased like it were a snow globe, that we examined bugs and mud, loved them each… then an orb of white light outstands on our horizon, hope dangles there to be as effervescent as old women as we were as little girls. We can drag the stand of our identity through the journey of our age and sustain it. Not everything is plagued with the stench of sex. Not everything is predatory. You need not be scared to step your foot out the front door. But exhilarated by the possibilities embedded in its soil. By the bugs that crawl up to embrace your toes as you dig them into the mud.

This is what Maria reminded me. She spoke of the futility of a body. And this urgency pervaded like an orb from her to protect such bodies, to tighten the stitches that connected the patches, keeping the fluff from falling out. And I rapidly gathered shards of mine up from the dusty classroom floor, clumsily pasting them back together with Elmer’s glue. The mosaic, stained glass figment of a body. And I was reminded of the love that life has for us when I thought about how it forgives us. Lungs battered by incessant cigarette use will restore anew. The vagina will regain its youthful tightness. There is hope for me yet. Scar tissue is still tissue after all. As long as I am still breathing, I can climb back up upon my feet. But the question remains, how do I reconnect with my body? How to I find my way back to meet it? Let me reintroduce myself, I’m Hallie. Remember me? From when you were a little girl? I’ve missed you. Let’s try this again…

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Coming home to my best friends was like victoriously breaking through the placenta. The water came gushing out from behind me, and with my wobbly steps with newfound legs, knocked me over and delightfully carried me down a grassy hill to where they awaited me at the bottom. Cleansing me with the clear waters of a new promise. I see the canvas laid out before me like the runway at an airport, glistening with mirages of outstanding possibilities. Silhouettes illuminated by the setting summer sun. Tonight I will take off and tomorrow I will land in another land. A new beginning.

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