“She kisses me. I hold on to her arms lightly, not wanting to hurt her, not wanting to weird her out, make her uncomfortable. She’s here for me: I’d hired her for exactly that, and she agreed to it, and she’s here.”
With every nude I take and share, I see my sexiness, my erotic power, with my own eyes. Sexy self-portraiture has allowed me to envision and realize myself as a sexual being.
“You’re at a party; you’re on vacation; it’s your lunch break. You feel good, or maybe just bored, or maybe a little reckless, and you scan the room, the beach, the restaurant. You stop scanning. And she winks, or he grins, or they realize you caught them staring and blush awkwardly at their own feet for a thousand years, and when they finally look back up, that’s it.”
“It was a predatory smile that he flashed at us, the rest of his pack, expecting us to become predators with him and start howling along.”
Grieving a friend lost to suicide in childhood, the effects of harmful compulsory masculinity, and looking around at a life that could just barely have been imagined then.
“As I write about my name now, I feel strength, and contentment and comfort and home. I feel more like myself than I ever have before.”
“…when my parents were yelling at each other and when my mom was slapping and screaming at me and when the kids at my school were making fun of me for being a cross-eyed dyke, I’d think about those kittens who were counting on me to keep them safe. I’d make it through another day.”
On family, memory, scar tissue, a 1999 Red Sox game, unreliable narrators, and setting the story straight.
The entire story of our entire trip from California to Michigan and also all the bigger stories and the smaller ones, too.
Rachel: “The writing & philosophy class I was required to take freshman year mostly sucked. But there was this one girl, Lizz, who seemed cool. She wore comic book tshirts and had beautiful shiny hair. One day after class, I announced to a friend, ‘Lizz is not straight. I can just tell.'”
Lizz: “There was something about Rachel that I just couldn’t shake. She spent a lot of time quoting feminist theorists who I’d never heard of and she had what I would later come to call ‘Congenital Gay Face.'”
“The threat to move to Michigan was always made in a specific context: some element of my life fell apart and I didn’t know how to fix it or myself.”
Was it a nightmare and you just thought you were waking up? It lasted for two hours, you could’ve been dreaming. But you were awake.
“If you’d told 17-year-old-me that in 2015, I’d be standing in Target, picking out a Father’s Day card or crying while dancing with my Dad at my wedding, I would’ve laughed in your face.”
What happens when first love and first heartbreak features a cast of three.
The journey to finding and deciding on my real name, Melinda Valdivia Rude, took about four years.
The best part is always the journey.
It was so easy to stay in touch until it wasn’t: Until my resentment exceeded my love for her, until her fear exceeded her hope. But the world we made lingers.
This is not as rewarding as that “spice up your marriage” advice columnist promised it would be.
In church that morning, I didn’t see any of that. Instead, I saw the tears you shed the first time you saw me after telling your son that I was spitting in the face of God.
The absolutely true autobiography of a liar.