Sex Laws.

We are expected to date. Like, real dates, where some man buys us dinner and we sit and eat it prettily. And on these dates we are expected to wear eyeliner and dresses and heels because these things apparently make us seem sexually attractive. We are supposed to behave charmingly and not at all aggressive, and so for women like us this often means that we are to clip our tongues and refrain from revealing all the things that individuate us from the general masses of women. We're to fashion these new identities and wear them like straight jackets while perched on some bar stool sipping some jewel-toned cocktail, all the while relating some truncated, vanilla version of our lives to some man we barely know.

But wait! There's more! After all of this work reinventing ourselves as soulless sexual creatures, we must then actively withhold sex from these men lest we, get this, want only to be seen as a sexual conquest. This would detract from our ultimate life goal of marriage, because there's apparently no possible way that any man, ever, would want to marry some woman he slept with on the first date. So we give kisses on cheeks and hold hands on our way to the train where we will invariably go our separate ways, and then we will wait a predetermined number of days before calling them again, or, even more appropriately, we will refrain from calling them entirely preferring to wait with great anticipation for these men to call us.

So we, meaning you and I, trend pretty far from this. What do they call us? Scrappy, brassy, punk. And all of these words that are ascribed to us connote more than their literal meaning, at least they seem to because people seem to decide awfully readily who we are and are not. We have walls. Right? We never let anyone in because we can fucking take care of ourselves. We're that Manic Pixie Nightmare that no man can tame. We catch airplanes like buses and drive haughtily into sunsets populated with barbed wire strewn bald eagles with electric guitars gripped in their talons. We have, hands down, the coolest girlfriends ever; the kind that make us look like we're living in a movie about what roller derby girls do in their spare time. And above all, Mindy, we never have boyfriends. Not real ones, right? I mean, there are boys, but it all must be some kind of joke. How can we--we who behave in this manner approximating the opposite of what is expected--possibly ally ourselves with anyone? Because really. Fuck boyfriends, am I right?

Do they ask you too? How you do it? How can you just drop everything and tour with a band through Mexico or find a job in Costa Rica; but the subtext of this question has nothing to do with how we do it, but is rather about how they themselves might acquire this skill. This question means I want to do what you do, and I usually answer in some vague manner, saying something like: "it's about priorities". That's not untrue; people generally fall into the lifestyles that they have because they've prioritized their lives as such, but there's so much this flippant answer is removing from the reality which is that most people value security and cannot capably handle the fear that ensues when it is removed. They see our stories as a series of postcards in their minds eye and they want their own, but they generally have no idea what we've endured to achieve them and probably don't want to. Last time you were asked this, was it by someone who could feasibly walk the mean streets of Managua penniless, alone, and in the dark? Could they spend a night sleeping on a subway train or on the beach? How do you really think they'd manage locked inside a Shanghainese tea house with six swiftly speaking Chinese girls? They want us to tell them a trick, something to make it both possible and easy, and I can rarely bring myself to break the news that for them it is likely impossible because it is not easy. Try sleeping on the floor of Union Station in DC in January, I want to say. Then we can talk.

Don't get me wrong, I want it all, too. I want to be four or five different versions of me all at once. If I could have all of that traditional security that most people have--like a house and a car and a job with health insurance--and some haphazard, nomadic existence, then, I mean, yeah. I would just take both! Why not? Except that our lives have been shaped by--maybe defined by--the removal of these exact securities. And I'm not saying that we've never had them, all of these comforts, but rather am saying that we can behave the way we do because we have, via necessity, honed the ability to not need them.

We walk, Mindy. We walk the earth and we pound the pavement and we are accustomed to doing this because we have done it before. Remember years ago in San Francisco, when you and Antonio stayed with me? You remarked on my good fortune; I had my own, beautiful apartment and a pretty cush job that afforded me that lifestyle. I even had health insuranceBut I remember looking around at my flat, then back at your face, and seeing your nod and look of recognition when I told you: "yeah, but this is all temporary." It's that first time; you know what I mean! When you walk from everything you know? After you've come out on the other side, after you've survived, it's that much easier to face starting over again and again. I've contemplated the idea that it's all perpetrated by some deep seated dissatisfaction with everything in the whole world that makes me do it, but at the end of the day I s'pose it doesn't matter much why I repeatedly decide that the unknown is preferable to life I've been leading as of late. And where it gets dangerous is when this starts to reset every few days or few weeks as it has for me in the last year or so. I should clarify: this is not dangerous to us. We can shave weeks and months from the calendar without hanging our hats anywhere and be, generally, just fine. But by definition this lifestyle affords us the limited ability to hone the kind of long-term, in person relationships that we see everybody else enjoying; and I'm not saying that I participate in traditional loneliness, because I usually don't. I enjoy being alone. But unlike what most people assume of me, of us, I am more than willing to let someone in, many people in fact. And when I have spent days on the road I have been known to pine for them like a long lost friend. Like I might pine for you, and often do.

It's these words, Mindy. Independent, clever, sarcastic. These words may very well describe some huge facets of our lives, but does it hold true for every part of us? We can walk from a lot, but we always tend to circle back for those things that aren't things. 

We love, Mindy. We love often and fiercely because we do many things fiercely. And to me it seems strange that so many people think we're incapable of this because we treat so many things in this all-or-nothing respect. Do we date? like, traditional dates? No, maybe not. Or not often anyway, and maybe that's because we're so used to participating in life on our own terms. But we love hard, and we risk a lot by doing this, but we've also felt the pangs of the alternative; when we are left wondering what might have been had we just fucking tried. And correct me if I'm wrong, but we don't tend to trade in this type of regret.

So I guess there are a few things that are difficult for us to walk from.

You saw me, Mindy. You saw me just days after flying from SeaTac to SFO, and I was already struggling with what I walked from and drowning this feeling in alcohol at many of Lower Haight's fine drinking establishments. And it felt crazy walking our old block like old times; we drank cheap beers and noted how vanilla Molotov's had become, and we made the trek down to Church and Market from Haight and Steiner that I could probably do blindfolded, but maybe not drunk and blindfolded. But that night in Lower Haight, I only needed a few sentences to explain to you how the last few days had been, and again I saw that nod, that understanding in your eyes: I left someone there, Mindy. Someone in my hometown.

I'm in Seattle. I mean, you know I'm here. And you know that I got here and didn't want to walk anymore because I spent three seemingly endless months pining for someone I had left behind and thought I could never have. And it's crazy because I tried to give up. I thought I had decided, in those three months away, that this time would be the time that I'd let go of even attempting to gain that kind of fierce fucking love that ensues when you are so goddamned sure that you want someone. And it's odd because the thing that made me decide this was that very same fear that I am so used to associating with everyone but us.

So, fuck boyfriends? Fuck declaratives. That was never something we didn't want, and just as we go big in every other realm we go big here, too. We go huge when we are given the opportunity to stand back and remark at our good fortune. We delight in walking in circles when the alternatives all involve losing that which we've newly prioritized to be that thing that drives us to stay. We refuse to sit prettily, and rather we tread our well known pave with purpose and drive, and we never wait for them to call us.

What I'm telling you Mindy, is that these things do not usually end as quaintly. We both know that. And everyday here, in Seattle, I wake in wonder as to how this could have possibly gone how I had spent hours on airplanes and busses wishing that it would, and I pine, as I often pine for you, for the day when I realize that not only is this something that I deserve but also possibly something that I earned.

Remember when you worked with me in San Francisco? At my seemingly cush job that afforded me that once fantastic lifestyle? We worked with all kinds of girls of all different ages and colors and origin, but I remember that the vast majority of them saw but one way to attract the perfect man. It was all about nail polish and scales and dresses, and it belied this notion that that's all that they thought they were: merely a collection of physical attributes that could (and should) be manipulated to attract just the right person. They were, as we all are, often left with sub-par results.

"If you would spend as much time worrying about how much you weigh," I'd always tell them, "on being an awesome person, you'd attract all those people you've always wished you could."

So cheers, Mindy. Cheers to us today. Because although we too have spent far too much time trying to live up to others expectations, we have also vehemently refused to be anyone but us.

And I've written you today to extoll on the rewards.

I love you.


1 comment:

Benny Martin said...

Individuate. Excellent word. A fine entry. Flow, so remarkable, eloquence- if the word could get a boner, it would reach you all the way in Seattle. You're wonderful, Miranda. Benny.