Whoever first claimed that healing takes time must have been more fascinated with the ‘poetics’ of trauma than with the trauma of hope. Whoever they were, not unlike strangers who stare, was convinced that we become more expansive by the end of the day. That feeling the weight of an hour lifted from our struggle to be patient is somehow less worthy of celebration than waiting to be assured that ‘wholeness’ is not an illusion. Are you full yet? I have never encountered a clock that ticks me back into wellness.
If, six months ago, I could have written myself back into health, I would have used a pen, when she abandoned me, so that I could not hide behind erasure, so that she could not evade culpability. I would have written a letter, to whom it may concern, in the second person, don’t you dare let her make your Grandmother cry, empowered by no real agency, a story, a complicated cliche, a tear-by-tear guide to being pulled apart.
I: don’t know how best to subvert these unhelpful-at-best messages about self-care, so whenever a tumblr post tells me to go for a spa day after a long week, or do yoga after a breakup, I can only roll my eyes and hold onto knowing that healing doesn’t have to be so fucking trivial - that there is a relationship between trauma and desire, between pain and intention, and that is the thesis.
The medical-industrial complex relies on the binary between sick and healthy in order to assure us that there is a cure. There will always be a little perforated pill for when we are not in line that somehow launches us back into normalcy - a cup of tea that makes the sadness go away, we know, at least, until the bitterness begins to stir. It makes me uneasy, how many of us are interested in putting a band-aid on a bullet wound and expecting it to stop bleeding.
At what point do we begin to invest in the preventative nature of healing? Do we have time to reposition our thoughts and challenge ourselves to understand that sometimes, healing exists in concepts wider than the distance between our ears? That getting better isn’t about being normal or getting back - it’s not about valuing what has been over what is or what will be. Can we even move through time like this?
Yes, and I’ll always be a wreck. Someone who does not push, but evolves through, who doesn’t give happiness all the credit, who spends energy unlocking new perspectives, who waves at discomfort with a stomachache and runs away with triggers. Can you smile yet? Has it kicked in? Do you feel the same as you did before?
He: is the best facilitator I know. Better an organizer and speaker than I’ll ever be. He makes eye contact with everyone in the room, and I have always been excited to hold his gaze from the other side of a workshop. We must love each other and protect each other. If he nods when I speak my truth or laughs when my joke hits, I am reminded what it feels like to have a role model or something - what I mean is, someone whose secrets will eventually belong to me, too.
I’ve been gone for five days, fifteen hundred miles away from home, parading my intentions and pushing the limits of my politics. A conference, a playground for our social anxieties to interact with each other. A space to affirm the feeling that I might not be on track - to absorb ideas, collect sweaty business cards, and tweet about it so someone will see and try to understand. We are queer, trans* and gender non-conforming young people of color and we organize towards transformative change. But every corner I turn, there is whiteness - they are chanting all lives matter, asking to touch our hair in the club, showing up in our spaces, making fun of our spirituality and stepping on our altars. When we charge them with racism, heterosexism, ageism and ignorance they become offended or red with humility. They defend: We added a Q to our acronym so as to be more inclusive. So I see, in this place, there is a shift happening in my movement. This is where we call-in and educate, reclaim and hold oppression accountable, connect, heal and speak truth into our intentions.
Some of us, we come from police states, but while we’re here, recreational or medical? There are three dispensaries within walking distance of the hotel I am not paying for. $20 for an ⅛ with a coupon. $30 for 100 mg of sour-coated gummy bears. You can look at the menu while you wait.
We let the shower run until the steam clouds so thick that it’s hard to see the four perfectly rolled blunts I have in my hand. Mango cigars and sale-rack tangerine sativa. The door is stuffed with a wet towel we keep kicking back into place each time a new comrade wants to share. I think we think this moment is indulgence, but I’m just chasing comfort and community. The walls and floor sigh with sweat. We smear our humor onto the vanity mirrors. QT*PoC Supremacy. On My Level. Redrum. This is not a sauna, but it might as well be, so pass the dutchie. An hour ago, she ate three cookies, and now she’s doing the cotton-eyed joe. You roll a mean blunt, it was nice to meet you.
Enter Executive Director, Communications Manager, he the Lead Organizer. Obviously, we can’t cover drinks, but dinner is on us. Enter Goodwill sweater w/ viscerally-held goals and so bleak and convincingly dim-witted a presence that by the last sip of the cheapest lager on the menu, I cannot decide if I have abandoned or recommitted to my own intentions. He nods at me and I’m supposed to feel encouraged, but instead I feel like a spectacle. I think that models of traditional leadership won’t work for our communities. Communications Manager snaps a shiny card against the bill.
They: are grounded to have me here with them, and although I am mostly made of roots, I am no anchor. I cannot hold them down. There is a short, hilly incline between enough and too much when it comes to loving Mom and Grandma. Sometimes all I have been able to do is visit Mom in the hospital, let Grandma know it’s okay to cry, or pour the bottle out. They are laughing and limping - surviving, and not defined solely by scars and wounds. Put that on my Mama. We share music, stay up late, watch psychological thrillers. Grandma’s hands used to ache sometimes and swell. We look out the window, watch the news, debate. But I understand now - it is much harder to love me. It is more productive to be sad at home. I buy a round-trip ticket only out of obligation.
She: is so diplomatic that her hands do not tremble when she is uncertain. But for the love of Libra, with warm fingers, I am taken into shivers. Because you rubbed my shoulder last night, a poem traveled down my arm. I am not in love, but I could be, so kiss me.
An accomplice to the crime of remembering that these moments only add to the sum of a temporary forever, she paints her nails many times a week with colors that sound suspiciously like they were tested on a focus group of trendy, thin, gay white men. Half of her room is a bed, two Twin XL mattresses pushed together and set tall enough that she can store bins of clothes underneath them, so that I can be scared underneath them. The walls are dressed with Christmas lights and dead flowers. There are very few pictures - her family and her best friends. An advertisement for the cake business she used to run in high school, a damn-near life-size self-printed poster of one of our favorite artists, and an anti-capitalism union sign from our apprenticeship last summer. On the dresser, a vat of lotion because she complains about dry skin, a large alarm clock with several buttons that I never touch, a few water bottles that she keeps filled up when we’re drunk. The shade is always pulled over the window, or at least at night, when I’m there, to prepare against the sunshine that she doesn’t want to wake her in the morning. I cannot write more because I never stay in the morning.
One time, in the beginning, I wrote a poem that now, makes me wince. It oozed prematurely with feelings that were not nearly ripe enough for her to read. I’ve decided not to write about you any more. I wonder if she would pick this low-hanging paragraph from a tree.
I’m shrinking in this bar as though it were a pressure cooker, expanding only through unrequited glances and whiskey sours. I remain insecurely hyper-aware and cooly inattentive. She greets me with a shallow hey, and in three hours, she takes me home with her.
Last night, she fucked me back into faith, back into a delusion of grandeur that is very scared it might be reflective of something real. I want you to do cute things for me, she admits, but - I do not falter at the feet of any hero.
On Valentine’s Day, I forget what it means to be considered lucky. I send a risky text about falling without direction, I dare myself, but I DO know what I want from you, and she reminds me that we forgot to be just friends. I am scared that my heart has fallen too low down my sleeve, that it’s going to stain. So I watch her cry with my forehead in my palms. And as though it might be good for us, maybe we are still moving forward towards something I cannot see.
There is a certain genre of intimacy that holds her at night and believes in quiet expectations; it is often interrupted by kisses and fleeting rationality.
No, but, sometimes, there is coffee in the morning.