The Others

The sun drops, and I’m surrounded by the spoils of a solitary Saturday night in June. Also the spoils of last night and the largest part of today with my beau.

I feel at odds with myself in that rare way that happens when you’ve sailed through a fog of discovery with a Winesburg, Ohio, “and here is this other.”  I suspect only introverts react this way; we so rarely take people on–or in, not to put too fine a point on it–that we must inject them right into our bloodstream to ensure no unwanted antibodies are produced. A mild withdrawal is inevitable, not remotely unpleasant.

I’m still picky, not nearly as prickly.

After he and I parted ways today, my bruja rewiring went into such overgear that it’d be funny if I had any financial safety net to cushion the blows. I tried on dresses I’d fetched from the tailor only to grimly declare them all prime candidates for take-twos. House Internet died, phone keyboard morphed into a ouija keyboard (how drearily on brand). I slipped into a favorite silk robe only to remember it’d been ripped up in a pique of passion.

Clean up! I ordered myself, trying to avoid adding the word slag and managing just barely. I straightened the sprawl of our very sweet night. Listened to the roar of my seismic shift.

At a certain point I remembered Mercury has been conjuncting Pluto just as we’ve been entering homebody Cancer. Our insides on our outsides, vulnerabilities laid bare as we pull out of time-space to stock of what stories we’re telling and why.

Last night we went to hear the lesbian comic Hannah Gadsby perform her one-human show Nanette at the Soho Playhouse. She said so many smart, rousing things about refusing to turn wounds into jokes.

She said,

I want my story to be heard because I do believe we can paint a better world if we can see it from as many perspectives as possible.

She said,

Hindsight is a gift.

She said,

There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.

I have dwindling cash in my accounts and a daunting lack of income on the horizon. But my computer works, doves are nesting on my fire escape, a permakitten dozes by my side, and loving friends live near and far. A loving lover even. The days are growing shorter again, but only barely, and the sadness and fear I carry isn’t nearly as capsizing as it was a few months ago.

I putter into the kitchen and fling open a window. The laughter from other people’s backyards serves up a fine soundtrack as I pull together a Saturday supper of last week’s dregs. Fettucine, a final spoonful of homemade pesto, ricotta, chicken-mushroom sausage, arugula, and pea shoots. One inky glass of red.

Two books to read–Happy All the Time, My Brilliant Friend–lay open, spines cracked. Torch singers crackle from a phonograph a friend dropped off last winter.

I’m lo-fi tonight, letting words and music spill into me as they did in the era I’m writing about in my memoir. The early 80s, when the pleasures of my pussy were relatively new, and men were just starting to think I owed them something because they desired me.

Hannah said,

If you hate what you desire, that’s a tension.

She said,

Many straight white men are more concerned with preserving their reputation than their humanity.

She said,

Misogyny is a mental illness.

At age 13, with music spilling from my record player into the summer light of my shared bedroom, I learned what being the object of that hatred felt like. Nowhere to turn, because that anger lived under my own roof. Also right outside my door, on the street, in the catcalls I collected as I loped to school.

Now I am 47 and lo-fi again, at least tonight. Feeling that Sun-Inned, indignant Ophelia blowing through the window on this sure summer breeze, doves cooing on her heels. Armed with a big blue bowl of pasta and Neil Young crooning “Forget about the past…”

Do you feel it? There’s great power in this new wind. We can’t just slap bandaids over tumors this time. But we can build a foundation upon which greater things–truer things–can thrive. The first step? Releasing our false bravado. The second? Dancing our softest, sweetest shoe.

I’m not sorry. I’m scared sometimes, sweeter all the time, and definitely no longer sorry.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy