We dropped—released the movie. We didn’t drop the movie. It’s not an album. Sorry, I can’t hear you. You’re cutting out. I know it’s ridiculous, but you’re cutting out again. Sorry, what? I can’t hear you. You’re cutting out. Oh, it’s probably my internet. My internet sucks. Is it my mic? It could be my mic. Is that louder? Is that softer? Is that muffled? Sometimes it sounds muffled. Yeah, so…we released the movie and it went well, but we have a lot to learn for next time. What will you do next time? Well—
Sorry, you’re cutting out.
…I realized they didn’t want to be my friends because I had to try so hard, and you shouldn’t have to try that hard with friends. Sorry, what? You’re cutting out again.
Over the last year, I learned who my friends really are.
Over the last year, I dove for my heart in the dumpster.
Over the last year, I—
What? Sorry, you’re cutting out.
Okay, let me whisper something in your ear. There’s a trick to that in noisy places, you know. We’ll have to request they turn the music down though because your ear isn’t anywhere near me. You can message the host about that in the chat.
But…you cannot whisper.
Because, and this is absurd, you’re cutting out again.
Content note: this piece contains several references to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On our pandemic date, we walk with masks around a snowy park. We run into an old teacher of yours and make polite conversation. Then we fall into the snow. It takes us on our separate paths. Our trains pull into different stations. We’re looking for something we won’t find here. Not at this time, not in this place, not with each other.
I try to find easier ways of doing things, but nothing gets any easier. I am exhausted. I haven’t stopped working. My wrists ache from typing. My days off aren’t that at all. Sometimes, I think about giving up this way of living and pursuing what I love. I think about it abstractly because abstract is better for fantasy. When I try to pin down the details, they flutter away. These butterflies are alive. They can still fly.
I still don’t know what kind of writer or what kind of person I am. I want to read a book called The Courage to Be Disliked. I want to be courageous. I want to publish my book, but I’m terrified of putting my story out there. It’s painfully vulnerable, and I don’t know if I could stand having it picked apart. I need to figure out how to separate myself from my story. Can that be done?
I watch another trans person come out and I almost cry several times. I think about voice training again. I think about binding. I think about growing my hair out. I think about cutting it off. It’s good I’m not trying to access healthcare right now. I can rarely get a hold of my doctor.
The routines I create save me and crush me simultaneously. The rules are necessary, and I hate them (but also not really).
My house has a big window, and the man who builds my shower tells me I need curtains to keep warm. Blankets, even, if I can find them. I buy shower curtains at the grocery store. Nothing else is open.
I say when the pandemic ends and my date says if. I should text them, tell them I’m not cut out for this. I’ve tried. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I find meaning in everything, and I am usually wrong about what things really mean.
Identity is troublesome and fleeting. Identity can be expansive or reductive. Identity can be as hard to pin down as a live butterfly and as painful. Why are you trying to pin this poor creature? Why am I?
I talk to the gods almost every morning. It’s helping.
I play music in the background to make my writing feel more profound. I have never done mushrooms alone. I want to. I am curious and afraid. They would give me a way to go somewhere without having to travel anywhere.
I’m tired of these kinds of dates: of glowing screens, video chats, and socially distant walks. Even without the restrictions, however, I think I’d still be tired of them. There’s something distinctly unromantic about dating.
Time is a precious resource and it bleeds out of everything. I’m trying to hold time in a cheesecloth. I bought margarine because butter is hard and because butter runs out. Margarine is, apparently, not good for you. Frankly, I don’t care.
I’m tired of dichotomies. I’m tired of routines. I’m tired of typing.
I begin in pieces, in parts. I begin where my date ends. I begin in motel rooms. Cheap, seedy motel rooms that are surprisingly clean. I begin to write, to really write, and I begin to feel better.
I’m on a date and it’s awkward and uncomfortable, but I’m grateful because I get to be around other people and meet a new person. There won’t be a second date, or maybe there will, just because we’ll want an excuse to go out again. That happens a lot these days. I look into this person’s eyes as we speak and I don’t see a potential partner there, no, but I do see a human, and I’m enraptured by the beauty of another human being’s non-pixelated eyes.
I’m at a party and the music isn’t any good and the beer is swill and the people are just okay, but I’m having the best night of my life because I get to be around other people and some of them are new and that is amazing. We’re shouting over the unfortunate music and no one is listening. Our eyes and voices are animated. You’d think we’re all high, but only a few of us are. Someone tells a joke that isn’t very funny and we all fall over laughing.
I’m walking around a mall looking at the pretty lights and colours even though I hate malls, but I’m having such a lovely time because there are people, people everywhere, and I have no reason to be afraid of them now. As I move, I catch bits and pieces of mundane conversations that are made interesting by over a year of isolation. I go into stores and don’t buy anything and the shopkeepers smile and say hello. I get an ice-cream cone and sit on a bench in the centre of it all and breathe in the stale air with a sigh of gratitude.
I get on a bus and then a train and both are delayed, so it takes a long time to get to my destination, but I’m not irritated in the slightest. I’m going somewhere, somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages. I watch pavement disappear and then I leave tracks behind. The buildings grow taller, taller, taller until they enter the mist. The train arrives at the station and then we must wait to walk down the stairs because of the crowd that pours out. I am overjoyed. The city is a place of fun again, not fear, and I can come here for a day without worrying about fatal consequences.
I’m sitting in a cafe writing and the noise is actually helping me work. It was difficult to find a chair. Lots of people go out for no reason now. The seats are uncomfortable. I’m typing away on my computer. My latte is burnt and lukewarm and delicious. I’m happily writing nonsense. Someone bumps into my table, spilling my drink and disturbing my focus. I love them for it. “Sorry!” They say, reaching out a hand to steady my situation. I smile up at them. They smile back.
Content note: this piece contains references to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I miss sitting somewhere in public and writing even though I never did that. I want to go to Fran’s All Night Diner at some ridiculous hour and eat greasy food and pull out my notebook and write about it. I’ll ask if they have decaf and they’ll have to put on a pot and I’ll feel bad, but don’t worry, I’ll drink a lot. The refills are endless. I’ll get through the whole pot. They’ll ask if they should put on another and I’ll say, no, that’s alright, thanks, it’s time to go visit my brother. And they’ll say their shift isn’t up yet. And I’ll say, no, not you, silly, me. It’s time for me to go visit my brother. And they’ll say, oh, yeah, isn’t that that guy who works at the café? Yeah, that’s the one. I’ll get the bill, please. Oh, certainly…You know, I’ve never visited my brother before because of the pandemic. What pandemic? Oh, have we forgotten already? Thank goodness.
Then I’ll be up and outta there, quicker than a streetcar can say surprise. I’ll be crossing that old town at lightning speed just to see the only other redhead for miles. Now that can’t be right, we use kilometres in Canada, but you know what I mean.
I’ll cross that old town and be haunted by its memories, but hey, at least I’ll be there without the fear of catching my death and spreading it. No one will look directly at me because they’ll know I’m not from around there, and I won’t mind one bit. I’ll keep quiet, and we’ll all agree that it’s better they don’t look. But you wait, just wait until I get to my brother’s place because then, I’ll talk. They’ll all talk. Not about anything specific, not about anything that matters, just the kind of talk you use to make everyone feel better. You know the kind. You use it all the time.
I’ll get to my brother’s place, and I won’t have the door code, so he’ll have to buzz me in. The building he lives in is 83 floors tall. It rivals the CN Tower. No, it doesn’t, don’t make me laugh, but the CN Tower is right next door. He’ll buzz me in from above, and I’ll walk into a lobby I’ve never seen. It’ll be unremarkable. Elevator doors will open, and my brother will step out. Where’s the red hair? I’ll wonder. It’ll be dark blue, but he’ll still be my brother.
Would you like some coffee? He’ll ask.
He brings his work home with him (quite literally).