*originally published August 7th, 2016.
It’s a serious question.
You’re standing outside the bar where you just saw a comedy show. The show is Lane Moore’s Tinder Live, which is exactly what it sounds like if you also sit around with your friends and judge the meat market of dating apps. Your friend who constantly finds herself at the center of it all just got invited to a party. The main event of the party is jello wrestling. The crowd is queer. Thus, Lesbian Jello Wrestling. If you’re anything like me, you’re totally envisioning the L Word, (the atrocious) S.5×07. Are you a Shane? A Jenny? Do you go?
I say no. I opt for home. As I walk away, a fat pigeon of a crisis of identification shits on my head. Am I a Tina? Am I that annoying bisexual who treats everyone like trash and never goes out and has stupid affairs with men in her production company? I adjust and remind myself I’m definitely Bette—the beautiful, highly convicted, occasionally cruel academic. Okay, but seriously I’m just kind of an Alice which I happily accept, but my idealized version of self is Bette always so shut up about it I’m Bette and the rest of you are just Jennys. Just kidding, I would never wish Jenny on you. I’m sorry I said that.
If you’re not familiar with the L Word, I’m done with this analogy. I’m moving forward. Thank you for sticking it out. This has a point.
So, I was presented with the chance to go to an incredibly exciting party with a fantastic premise in the middle of Brooklyn on a Saturday night. I declined. Nothing in my body wanted to go. I’d been hard in the paint, sucking whatever marrow life has to offer all damn week. I’ve been on job interviews, trekked the Brooklyn Bridge, Jersey City, Manhattan, ate 40 cent wings and pricier beer, got a date for this coming Wednesday, and braved so many versions of public transit I feel like I now reject the primacy of the car. That’s for another day. That’s very political.
When Bee asked me if I wanted to go, absolutely nothing in my body said yes. My knee was swollen from the day prior; walking was painful. My well-earned chub rub from earlier in the week was also in rare form because I hazarded wearing a dress again instead of pants. My body was exhausted. The ego, or what I figure is my ego based on my light consumption of Buddhism-cum-yoga/meditation culture, started doing backflips and screaming, “If you don’t do this, you’re MISSING OUT. YOU’RE SO LAME. IGNORE YOUR BODY. GO GO GO, DON’T BE A LOSER.” Anxiety starts boiling in my stomach. I could barely see straight for fear of how I would be perceived.
I dialed in. What was this trip about? What am I doing this for? Was I a Shane or a Bette? Was I even in this episode? How am I going about my time on this earth?
It got meta. Don’t use your brain, y’all. It gets weird.
At this point, I’d like to share two things with you. One, I feel distinctly vulnerable and uncool admitting I didn’t go to this party. Two, I live in a traumatized body. Like many, many other humans and specifically female-bodied people on this earth, I’m a survivor. I include this because as it stands now, there is no way for me to write freely and honestly without acknowledging this information. I live in a traumatized body. It is irrational. It is tender. It is achy and breaky in ways other bodies might never know. I live in a traumatized body, but not an arrested one. It is a beautiful vessel. It demands attention. PTSD demands listening. I’ve worked, in and out of therapy, through yoga, through movement, through writing and running and staying and listening to heal this body that will never be whole. I make myself softer. I settle deep inside near my spine and wait for the word. I’m grateful for this body that can be both so alien and so wonderfully home. Due to the nature of the body, when it talks, it behooves me to give it audience. I do not believe in pushing through the pain. I’d much rather sit with it and know it intimately.
On the walk to the N, I work through my panic. My panic of being uncool, of being seen for the weirdo I am, for being a nerd, or being lame. All this, because I skipped on lesbian jello wrestling! By the time I got to the PATH and spent the rest of my time avoiding a very angry, drunk, Jeff Bridges lookalike (sharpened multitool in hand, thank you Patrick Howard), it occurred to me that maybe this trip is an experiment in intimacy. An experiment in vulnerability.
I ask, would you harbor me? I ask, can I sit with you? Will you sit with me? Let me know you. Let me see you. It never occurred to me that in all my seeing, I might be seen.
I don’t know what this trip is.
The wisest man I know told me to live in the question. I think he stole that from the wisest man he knew.
I don’t know what this trip is, only that I wanted to do it. Doing it has made me lonelier than I’ve been in years. It has made me more aware than I’ve been. It has forced me to cook a lot of chicken, because it’s cheap and healthy. It has led me to a lot of very amazing open doors. Maybe I don’t have to walk through all of them. For every open door, there’s a window, and then beyond that is the world outside, and even then you’re still sitting in a room, which might not be the same one you started in.
That’s a lot of fucking space, y’all.
Maybe it’s the Texas in me, but I believe there’s a lot of space.
This trip is an experiment in intimacy. In vulnerability. In space.
If I show you mine, you don’t have to show me yours. But if you want to. I’m here.
I said no to lesbian jell-o wrestling because life is long, and there are so many yeses, but we so often doubt the validity of our noes. Does that make sense? I don’t really mind either way. I wasn’t in this episode. I said no, and the world didn’t end. If anything, there’re millions of things that happened anyway. I’m unimportant, and totally in control of my acquiescence. Both are thrilling.
And, I don’t know y’all, I just have this really strong feeling that there will be jello wrestling in my future. I can almost feel it squelching between my toes.
I’ll keep you posted, and if you’d like to hear how cool Lesbian Jello Wrestling is, my very fine friend Bee has a story for you.