on mourning the past
I didn’t write much here last year. I’ve been eating my own medicine, or whatever. Being kind to myself and letting myself feel, respond to what I need, not forcing things – you should try it. The rest feels good but the self-worth tied to the production of things not so much. My creative juices all but dried up thanks to the pandemic. Do you know what that means for me? Let me begin to count the ways my entire life had been structured around my creativity and I honestly had no idea until it was gone. Suddenly when my source of creativity disappeared, the rug was pulled out from under me. I eventually connected the dots and realized how much I was inspired every day by the buzzing joyous filth of New York City.
Creativity feeds my sex drive, it inspires my gender expression, it sparks my ideas for writing and making things, helps me be a world-class pervert, and it begs me to read furiously. This is all somehow quite cerebral. Reader, I had no idea!
Let’s start with gender. My femme ass used to say things like “I’m femme on purpose, I dress up for myself! No one else!” Well hey guess what happens when you don’t leave the house for weeks at a time because there’s a global pandemic? Suddenly there is no femme to be seen. It’s… social?! Thus began the longest stretch I’d gone without wearing a dress (or hard pants) or makeup or lingerie in my entire adult life. In sparks of “feeling myself,” I’d put on a dress and do a full face only to feel like a total clown. Who is she? Is she still femme? Why does this feel so foreign? The few months last summer where the world felt safe to socialize meant that every time I went out in public I felt like an awkward teenager who didn’t know how to dress myself. I brushed it all aside, assuring myself of my femme status and reminding myself that wide leg adidas pants and crocs are just my personal evolution.
I used to read like, one book per week? I absolutely loved devouring books and the more I liked a book the more invigorated and inspired I felt in other parts of my life. Most of my reading happened on my subway commute to my day job, which was a 45 minute ride each way. The more I read, the more I wrote. I would meet up with friends saying “OMG let me tell you about this book I’m reading!” It was a sweet cycle of creativity that completely disappeared as soon as I stopped riding the subway to work, or at all. I was too invested in doom scrolling twitter while simultaneously watching HGTV to read books and every time I tried I would simply fall asleep. So eventually I stopped trying because it made me feel really sad. I did that thing where I was kind to myself and I said Hey it’s ok you don’t actually have to read a book a week to feel smart or interesting. Do what feels good right now (you annoying overachiever), it will be ok!
I have only read a handful of books (five?) in the last two years. It really fucking bums me out but ~radical acceptance~ or whatever!
When I was in my mid-twenties I read Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic and suddenly everything was erotic. What I took away from that essay was basically that mindfulness, intention and self-worth were powerful pillars of the erotic. When I say that my view of the world immediately changed, I’m not kidding. I think this is how I came to be endlessly inspired by New York City– its people, its rats, its trash! The vibrations from the energy of the city really breathed life into my sexual self. Some of my best scene ideas came to me while sitting in a park people-watching, or staring at a random beautiful person on the train. I can’t explain it other than she is my muse (NYC).
Being effectively cut off from a social life for the past two years (I mean like not the kind where there’s gay people on my screen, like corporeal homosexual demons smashing their bodies together to loud music) has drastically changed the way my brain works. I truly had no idea how much of my grind was a result of my surroundings and attachment to others – friends, acquaintances, the hotties fucking at the play party, and even the people who I have never met that I shared energy with in public spaces.
I realized recently that while this definitely is due to the extreme sadness of the world falling apart and massive amounts of death, it is also a different grief that I’ve been trying to ignore.
A few weeks ago, I attended a leather femme tea time over zoom. I was wearing my pajamas (silk and leopard at least!) and had hair still wet from the shower (at least I showered!). My friend and host Hannah asked all the attendees to set an erotic/kink related intention for 2022. As someone who dreads future planning (hello, trauma!) I spent the few minutes thinking about my lost desire/erotic imagination and got super sad. When it was my turn to share I wiped a single tear from my eye and told everyone that I just want to WANT TO do stuff again! When will my desire return from the war?
Knowing what I know about grief, which is a lot, I’m shocked that I didn’t realize until now that I can’t move on and create a new normal or recalibrate my life if I’m not mourning the things that I lost. I have also realized that (in revisiting a Judith Butler fav) that grief is an erotic process. This is what I mean by reading is inspiring!! I will save the poetics about grief for another time, but it is erotic in that it forces you to feel things. Grief unrecognized in melancholy (I think Freud said that?) and you have to literally let that bitch in, and let her top the shit out of you, to be able to move on.
Accepting that change is “fine” is one thing, but actually mourning what has been lost is quite another.
In the spirit of looking upward and onward since this winter is already looking bleak – here’s where I am at the start of a new year. I have settled on a new version of my gender that is like, sexy construction worker who wears red lipstick? I don’t know, I’m still workshopping it. Winter’s hottest boot is platform crocs with thick socks. I wear a puffer coat now. I bought Carhartt overalls in which I actually do Carhartt shit. I am renovating a church that will hopefully have heat in the next few weeks! I am watching slightly less HGTV these days, which may or may not have anything to do with having already watched every show possible, and have been splitting my idle time between reading and stripping paint. I did 2 (TWO!) scenes last week where I was covered in blood. My plants are thriving. The best thing about winter is that I can snuggle my little heater dogs with reckless abandon. And lastly, I have been moisturizing like nobody’s business, which, as we all know, is extremely erotic.
If you’ve learned anything from this, let it be that you should be kind to yourself, drink water, and process your grief! We all have mourning to do these days, some more than others. What has changed? Who have you lost? Grief, after all, is the deepest form of love.