The Stories You Tell to Save Your Life
The thing about the stories you tell to save your life is that you’ll believe them:
I was a tough girl, a scary girl, a hawk, a loogie in the gutter and stomp away on five-inch platforms femme, so I couldn’t use my cane for years or say when I needed to lie down
I was tough, no one fucked with me, I walked with a femmeswagger, femmedagger, so I couldn’t admit when a girl was killing me with her eyes and hands
People thought I was that angry girl because I was brown and femme and pissed, had left my parents. They never saw the grief because I didn’t.
When I fled my family what I knew was fierce relief and joy
They would never hurt me again, there would never be another screamed-at Christmas I would never hit myself to make what didn’t show up in x-rays real.
I made love to my first apartments, shitboxes with bad carpet and windows so mouldy a frame fell apart in my hand,
like someone else would polish wedding present crystal. My solitude was my long, joyful wedding with myself.
It wasn’t until she started to die and I knew because I couldn’t stop crying, my head a grief migraine lightning strike,
that I finally whispered I miss having a mom.
I felt the terror they would show up and break up my wedding
Gratitude was a fierce dive in my chest telling my kid she was safe, she was safe. I was her imaginary friend grown up whispering all the ways we got the fuck out as I rocked, arms wrapped around knees, in my very own car.
I cried for months and then anger finally came to visit
My rage was perfect shellac red nail tips pierced with diamond dermals. I was finally not so goddamn understanding.
I was finally furious at what they had both done.
Maybe because I had become their age and I knew they were adults maybe because if I could fight to find therapy for $20 they could’ve tried that too Maybe because the gift of queerness is nothing is as it has to be
Maybe the gift of being a storyteller is I can keep rewriting my story.