I grew up in a Texas oak tree. My mother didn't know what to do with my hair so when she noticed the branches she let the wild take hold.
It could’ve been anywhere. A brick house. One large tree. A lake down the street.
In elementary school I was taught a song in German to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.”
One day my carpool forgot me. I decided to walk home. I was six years old. The whole way I was singing Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” through fat tears. My mother picked me up every day after that.
I re-enacted a dream I had. A play I called it. I’d ask the neighbors for a quarter as they walked by. I stood on top of my brick mailbox. Rubber knife in hand. Lunging at my friend below.
The man with a knife came from behind the mailbox as I crossed the street. I never saw his face. The knife was vivid. Slashing toward me as my mother stood behind the glass front door. I ran toward her screaming. It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream.
I dreamed life was something more than was offered to me. Everywhere or nowhere at all. Something in between. Why is everyone so concerned about meat? I could never keep silent or still or satiated. This all seemed so complicated.
Because I’d been born. I never knew how many times I’d have to pretend I was asleep while guys tried to fuck me. My parents loved me enough to not lie to me. I was not saving myself. I flung my waif body around. An unconscious invitation to hate myself.
To use it. Touch it. Fuck it. Discard it. I'm not phased.
Remember in junior high at Six Flags on the grassy knoll we licked each other’s eyeballs. I didn’t want to die a virgin.
What’s a body for?
A ritual distraction. A way for me to relate. To be used or felt or seen. To know that I was here. And maybe I decided to punish myself for knowing that.
I think it’s strange we don’t name ourselves. We are named like dogs and answer when called. To choose or be given. To decide or to answer.
I resigned to the life of a cat. And started grooming myself.
“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails penetrated the room when I lost my virginity. Thirteen and bloody in my friend’s bed at her grandparent’s house. I remember being unimpressed. Like that’s it?
I remember a logo on the back of Chris Lajudice’s T-shirt in sixth grade. I tried to figure out what it stood for. Nintendo? How innocent.
I romanticized death as flying. I did that with everything. Always a scene from a movie.
At thirteen I envisioned suicide by jumping. I didn’t want to die. It was just in case. Back then, friends meant something. They were willing to go anywhere with you. Even if it was off a building.
INT: Three young girls sitting in a bedroom talking about how they would kill themselves if they got AIDS.
And like the best of friends, they decided to jump too.
We raved with hunger and desire. We hoped something would happen to us. We chased the tail laid before us. Scratching and sniffing our way to pain. We took turns leaving consciousness for a few seconds.
INT: Girl’s bathroom. Jr. High. The 90s.
Girl being choked up against the wall by another girl until she passes out.
The passed-out girl starts to walk before fully conscious again.
They all laugh.
This was a game they played.
I showed up at my best friend’s house to get her out of bed to smoke a joint in her driveway. She stood hunched over. Cradling a pillow against her freshly operated-on stomach. She had gallstones. She’d gotten something for the pain. We passed the bottle back and forth.
Lortab elixir made itching an art form. Wrapped body in tape like mummy. Ripped like wax strips. Is this what love feels like?
A long liquid road of please God, let me be clean. Until I dreamed up a new way to dirty myself.