When the election results came in, it had already been a month since I gave up on trying to fix my own mental health issues. And so it turned out that the worst day of our generation collided with my own personal low.
“I get up off the floor, reach for a long, heavy leek and a cutting board and my favorite knife, its weight in my palm like an amulet. I feel like a stranger in my own life, but I have seven hours and eight dishes left. There is work to be done.”
My problem with grief is its general shape. Grief is somehow both slippery and sharp, rolling over you with sadness then sneakily attacking your soft underbelly with its claws.
“I sent a short, simple message saying that although I didn’t realize it fully until recently, I was indeed bisexual, that this was an undeniable part of my identity, and I could no longer comfortably hide this fact.
He never responded.”
“There’s nothing more I want to remember than every moment and sensation we shared. Our grinding hips at Queer Cumbia, feeling your drunken sweat drip onto my freshly implanted tits. The way we sloppily made out and smeared our red and burgundy lips all over our mouths, noses, forehead, and neck.”
It was the end of my innocence when I realized that being Black or being Queer in this country could get you killed. This was the time before Hurricane Katrina, before 9/11, before Ferguson. Before. Before. Before.
“I feel as if I am filled to the brim, fit to spill, with how much I love her and how much I resent being a secret. It makes me feel invisible and alone but I stand by her. I stand by her until I can’t anymore. When we break up, I am more determined than ever to come out to my father.”
“How could an incapacitated person feel let alone be sexy, I catch myself thinking. Now, when I have those thoughts, I take out my camera.”
“I think that adopting a dog would make me “less of a sad sack,” according to a journal entry on the day that Marty is picked up by his human mother.”
“My ancestors didn’t fight for nothing. They didn’t keep going on that long, cold, hard march from our ancestral homeland to “Indian Territory” just so that I could give up. They didn’t lay down on the trail to die and neither will I.”
“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.”
How did I, a girl growing up in 1970s New York City, relate to a drama about two women who fall in love during WWI? And, why has it remained with me for 40 years?
“Instead of getting medical care, I had a work colleague help me to my hotel room and pour me a tumbler of whiskey. I downed the whiskey with a handful of aspirin and prayed for the pain to stop.”
“To date long distance then live with the other in person is to be in two versions of the same relationship. One wishes desperately for the future and is fueled by daydreams of the past; the other tries to make every waking moment something special and ignores the fact that time is passing, whether we like it or not.”
He shouted “Repent” since the sign was not sufficient, I guess. I found myself going up to him while topless Amazons danced in his face. I found myself going up to him to say this: “I love you. I have nothing but love for you.” I couldn’t help myself.
“It is the weekend Beyoncé releases her “Formation” single and a bad queen has just performed it without breaking a sweat. I am watching the queen and learning that the way not to sweat is to move so little that every move seems like drama. I’ve got the not moving part down, which is how I am here at a club with a roommate whose friends want to meet the Black girl she let live in her house.”
“For a moment, I forgot about the summer of 2015. I forgot about the panic I experienced, the insomnia, the depression. We watched the new season of Orange is the New Black together and by the end of episode 12, it suddenly all came back.”
“Dear Editor: You are cordially invited to have brunch with country music icon Dolly Parton this Sunday, August 7th.”
“I wasn’t in denial, I had just become extremely successful at compartmentalizing difficult emotions that I had no idea what to do with.”
I need to call my “vulnerability thing” what it was: ableism. Internalized, sure, and deliberately kept that way (like it would only cause harm if it got out), but all the same. It made itself at home in me without any right to be there. And it stayed for so long because it looked like other things: perfectionism, intelligence, work ethic, high standards.