Melanie was born on August 5, 1982. I know this because I fell in love with her in fifth grade.
The birthdays we still remember, even though that person isn’t around anymore, and will just keep thinking of year after year forever and ever without end, amen.
If the ferns in my garden have survived the last few thousand years, then they have witnessed genocide and forced removal, tornadoes, the filling in of wetlands. Our acts of maintenance are political decisions. What we narrate and what we nourish set up the futures we are willing to fight for.
“Maybe I could teach you how to do that and you could teach me a couple of things I’ve been wonderin’,” I told her. She shook my hand. It was a deal.
The problem with birthdays, and graduations, is that endings and beginnings are so often the same thing. What we’re really celebrating is the motion, the opposite of stagnating, the skill of turning your head and blinking your eyes to see things in a new light, even if your feet and heart feel heavy and the landscape hasn’t changed.
Nothing stays the same forever, and that includes our bods; here’s the Autostraddle team talking about how they’ve noticed their bodies aging and what that’s like.
I claimed to be a kid who “just loved birthdays,” when what I really loved was a socially sanctioned reason to shower my crushes with affection.
My grandparents and mother were crowded around my grandfather’s laptop; they had lit candles on a cake and sang happy birthday. I was about to make excuses to go back to studying when my grandmother mentioned the referendum. “You know, we’ll see your sister in a few weeks. She’s coming back for the vote.”
Breaking out of what we’re born into.
You see, my father was going to Heaven. He was raised an Orthodox Jew, the only child of Victor and Dorothy, but becoming Catholic, this was the way forward for him. He would be saved.
“I used to lie about my age to get deals off the kids’ menu. Like, why would we pay an extra five dollars when we all know I’m about to get chicken tenders and it’s only an appetizer if I’m over twelve??”
“I knew if I could exert most of my energy in the painful icy parts of life, I could certainly make my way back to celebrating the good.”
“Autostraddle is more like a guinea pig than like a human child, both for our experimental nature and for how long we were expected to live.”
“Here I am, gaslighting myself, and all I want to do is buy some clothes.”
Shaven heads on women have challenged and informed ideas of beauty, power and tradition for centuries. Here’s the history of a very queer style.
“My style icon is Nancy Meyers’ interpretation of a middle-aged white woman after she’s decided to pull herself together sometime in the second act. Wow that is… I feel very called out by own self.”
A lesser, straighter person might have given up the ghost at this point, but I was determined.
I had “dressed” myself before driving drunk to my mother’s home. I had taken a shower thinking that water would take away the smell; that putting on leggings instead of leggings-that-I-slept-and-drank-in, would make me look like I was wearing clothes; that if I put on mascara I’d look like I had slept through the night and not spent the whole day drinking.
I don’t want to be pigeonholed into a specific category or subject; I want to be seen as everything and nothing. I want to be seen as authentically myself, and to push myself to fully experiment with my favorite art.
“She doesn’t mean to be limiting. She just doesn’t see that the way she feels about her body is not the way that I feel about mine.”