He asked me why I write.
“I can’t not,” I said. “It bottles up…this thing…it makes me feel sick until I can get it out.”
Likening this process to a boot-and-rally, while true, also capitulates to why I write; I am not as understandable in my verbal state as I am written.
There is a satisfaction in sorting through the terrifying debris of a near-constant state of data collection that is the writing process, but it’s not the soothe I’m after. It’s a consolation, sure, but as for the why? Innate purge.
Last week I was followed out of the Kenmore station by a man who pulled at my headphones and asked for directions to a store “somewhere on the BU campus.” I stood in the center of the stairs and unapologetically blocked traffic as the flatly sweet scent of beer splashed from his plastic Coca-Cola cup.
“I’m sure if you keep walking this way,” I pointed in a broad stroke, “you’ll find it.” He watched only my face and not my gesture.
“Oh, but also I couldn’t help but notice you on the train, do you have a boyfriend?”
Yes, because you always say yes, because the one time you tried, for authenticity, to say no, it got you involved in some twenty-minute plea about a house in Needham and a 401k and why isn’t that good enough for you?
“Can’t you just tell him no tonight?”
“Absolutely not,” I said and then I ran away. Boot and rally, run far, far away, even though there are no real safe spaces and why be afraid? Some days I’m convinced I could kill someone before I could be silenced. Other days I’m already silent of my own accord.
I’ve been quiet throughout the election cycle because the role I’ve assumed on my social media and in my jobs does not foster a great political presence. And anyway, if you make your voting decisions based on me, then how do they count toward your voice at all? We get what we deserve when everyone is truthful.
Yesterday I vowed to take fewer Ubers because I’m spending too much money not being fast enough getting out of the house. This was immediately before I called the first of three Ubers in one day because it was all upside-down rain and sadness around these parts.
He could have been any of the drivers I’ve had this week who heard me speak and told me I’m not from here, but it was the second driver who asked where I came from.
“Are you German, then?”
“No one in the middle knows what they are. This whole grey-ing out in America…you really lose the culture.”
He said it was nice talking to me as I left. I’m not as good when I speak as when I write. I’m not as brave nor concise nor transparent. I am opaque and I break. Run. Run far, little heart.
There are no more spaces for you to soften into the world, to belly up the pure red of your racing body against shearling and safety. Purge the hurt and go again. Run and write.