Monthly Archives: June 2014

Nakedness

There is physically nothing to weigh me down. The only thing hanging around me is fear of judgement. Not judgement of the way I look, because at this point I think I’m pretty healthily in love with my body. The judgement I fear would be for showing my body in the first place. It’s not something people are used to. We cover ourselves, so I cover myself so as not to offend anyone. Or overexcite.

It’s funny how much fuss we put into disguising the way we look. Makeup. Clothes. Our bodies, our nakedness, the way we actually look, hold allure and a twisted sense of power for as long as we hide them. “People like some mystery.” As soon as the cover is gone, we realize how normal and unspectacular everything is. Not that bodies don’t hold their own magic. But the illusion is gone, and it seems that nowadays, perceived value diminishes with illusion. The only way to hold value to myself is by keeping myself hidden.

But it feels stupid sometimes. This skin I’m in, is it who I am? When people say, “it’s what’s inside that counts,” they aren’t talking about the muscles and ligaments. They’re talking about the mind, the soul. So which is more important? When I come back from the shower, struggling to dry off and simultaneously keep from offending my roommates, it seems like too much value is being given to the sac that contains my soul.

“Do you mind if I’m just naked?” I ask.
“No,” says everyone else.
“I love being naked, too!” says one girl.

Poa. My towel can drop, and I can find lotion and clothes at ease.
I’m exposed. I’m happy. In a way, I’m free.

Candy Nostalgia

“Have a good trip,” he texted.
“Thanks,” I replied.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“I’m so sorry,” he told me. “I miss you. I could literally get down on my knees and beg you for you to understand how sorry I am.”
(You’re still sitting next to me), I thought.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Sometimes, when you’re talking, I really want to punch you in the face,” I told him. “I really think I hate you sometimes.”
“Have you always felt this way?” he asked, looking worried.
“No, I told him. Not until last summer.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“I know you think this is a joke, but I’m Going to marry you,” he said. “As soon as you graduate college. I’ll have my money together. I’ll buy your father a goat, and I’m proposing.”
“Excuse me?” was all I could say.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The other day, I was in Target buying Twizzlers. There were these bags of m&m’s, all different kinds, and I found myself holding a bag of white chocolate ones. I knew that they wouldn’t taste good, but I still really wanted to have them.
A few years ago, m&m’s had this promotion for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and they sold white chocolate candies. Loving white chocolate, I bought a Lot of them, brought them home, and poured some into a bowl. They were weird. Didn’t taste as good as I’d thought they would, but I ate them anyway. I organized them in rows by color, then slowly ate them one by one. First shell, then inside, until I only had one left. Then I refilled the bowl and started again. For the week that the candy lasted, I would come home from camp and lie on my bedroom floor, listening to audiobooks and eating organized white chocolate m&m’s. It was one of the most relaxed, content times I remember from my childhood.
I wanted to feel relaxed and content again.i wanted the m&m’s, but I still had to buy dinner, and pack, and see people before my trip, and buying the bag would’ve been impractical. I wanted them. It wouldn’t have been the same.

He was begging to be friends again. He wanted our old relationship back. I wanted it back, too. I wanted to be able to walk to his house after work and hang out, and de-stress, and talk. I wanted to be able to call him when things went wrong, to have him come see me, to cry into his chest as his supportive arms encircled me. I wanted to meet him to go running, to go eat, to walk through our town together and just be in each other’s company. I missed him, but I didn’t trust him.
When I walked to his house, he’d ignore me. I would talk, and he would play video games, or watch basketball. I talked to his friend, instead. If I called, he’d never show up. When his arms went around me, they weren’t supportive; they were grabbing. He became the reason I cried. We’d walk together, until we saw people he knew, and then he would stand in front of me as he talked to them. He used to make me feel as relaxed and content as a bag of white chocolate m&m’s and an audiobook. Then he made me feel like an object, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

When I finally yelled at him for everything, he was surprised. He apologized. He promised to be better. Then he disappeared. He came back. He apologized. He promised to be better. Then he disappeared.

And now he’s back, and begging, and wanting to marry me, still. And I want what he does, minus the marriage, and I feel like I’m holding our friendship in my hand the same way I held those m&m’s in Target.
The thing is, everything changes. Things that once made us happy may no longer do so as we evolve. That’s why we have our memories. They’re feelings to escape into when our present circumstances aren’t as nice. If only I could find a way to cherish the past without feeling as though the present is lacking. With the candy, I think I know what I’d be getting. With him, I have no idea.

For now, they’re both on the shelf.

Beautiful Thoughts

One of the security guards at work wants to know why I don’t have a boyfriend. He doesn’t know that I’m asexual, and I don’t think I’m going to tell him. It’s not like I’m hiding it out of shame, but I really don’t think he’d get it, and he doesn’t need to know about my personal life anyway.
“I just don’t. Maybe I’m not a relationship person,” I tell him.
“But you’re so pretty!” he exclaims. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

We’re not going to talk about how that minimizes my agency as a person by completely overlooking my own potential desires and abilities when it comes to relationships, and instead only attributing my availability for having a boyfriend to the interests of all the men around me. That would be a whole other thought process.

I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve only recently started to consider the possibility that I could be a beautiful person. I love it when people compliment me. I love being told that I look nice, I love being called beautiful, and when he said that I was pretty, I beamed and truly meant it when I thanked him. The thing is, I’m having a hard time figuring out why this matters.

Why should being pretty give someone a better chance of falling in love, or (if that’s too serious) being in a relationship? I used to think that if I was beautiful, my asexuality wouldn’t matter. That being attractive would pull people in and they would stay for your personality, and this intense, loving bond would form. But it seems that people don’t want to be with beautiful things, anyway. They want to fuck beautiful things.
A lot of us, when we’re kids, if we walk past pretty flowers, we pick them. We don’t allow them to grow, coming back to see them and cherishing how pretty they are in a more lasting way. That’s beyond our processing abilities. No. If we see pretty flowers, we want to have them, so we pick them, and they die. Then we move onto the next flowers we see. Occasionally, we run into flowers with thorns, and those we leave alone for good. People, not all people, but many people, treat other people like flowers.

The last guy who wanted to be with me asked me if I cuddled with a lot of people, since I wasn’t interested in hooking up.
“I would if I could,” I told him, “But most people aren’t interested in only cuddling. It leads to expectations, and disappointment, and complications.”
“Well, you can’t blame them,” he told me. “It’s hard for a guy to be in bed with a girl he finds attractive, and not try anything.”
“Maybe guys should learn that they can’t automatically have something because they want it,” I responded.
We cuddled once. It didn’t work out.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” until it isn’t. The thing is, what makes something beautiful? How do we know, when we look at something, whether it actually looks good or not? Aesthetics are a tricky thing, and beauty standards are changing all the time. What’s beautiful now was probably grotesque a couple centuries ago, and vice versa. They’re calling Generation Y the ass-loving generation. In my mother’s generation, having a big butt was not something to wish for (funny story: when mine started developing, she had me stand in front of the mirror and do posture exercises to try to hide it. They didn’t work, obviously, but she’s come around in the past few years).
And does beauty have to be seen? Can it be felt, or heard, or felt? And once it has been experienced, what are we supposed to do with it? It’s intangible, and ephemeral. It has no purpose, other than to tauntingly draw others along after it. Being with a beautiful person, or having beautiful things, doesn’t do anything for you. Being a beautiful person doesn’t really mean shit, either. This is something I recognize.

Still, if you call me beautiful and I think you mean it, it’ll probably make my day. Sad.

Dress Code Ranting

The school year is over, graduation has passed, and for the moment I’m at home. It’s weird being back. I can’t say that I particularly like it, but compared to a lot of people’s situations, mine isn’t bad. My friend is talking to a guy who spends his entire summer in his room, reading textbooks. He’s afraid to leave his house, which has already been raided, because he doesn’t want to run into trouble in his neighborhood. I feel perfectly safe walking anywhere where I live, no matter what time it is. This is good, because recently I’ve had to walk to and from work a lot.
So I feel safe. I don’t feel particularly accepted, though. I feel like I don’t fit in with my environment. Looking back, I don’t know how I bore it through middle school and high school, where conformity is everything. I always thought it was my mixed race and fashion choices that made it hard to fit in with people. Now, I think that my thoughts had a lot to do with it, too. They just don’t click with other people’s, and I’m spending too much time repressing rants that I know will just make me look Crazy, Angry, or Weird.
I was at the mall with my friend. I knew that I had to visit her, and I also had to get long skirts for Kenya and Cameroon, so I decided to lump the two things together. It’s weird the things you resort to doing when you know you need to spend time with someone. Having lunch gets old, and an at-home visit was out of the question. What would we do, just sit and talk the entire time without an out? Recently, our most in-depth conversations have been about boys. As an asexual, that’s saying something.

My friend was telling me all about how she and her boyfriend had gone to the beach.
“Yeah, we went to ______ beach,” she was saying, “There are a whole lot of them out there. We’d never go to Coney Island, though, because that’s too ratchet. We saw all these girls wearing short shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out! He saw them, and he was like, ‘If I were their parents, I’d never let them out of the house,’ and I was like, ‘I know, right? Why do they think they need to try so hard?'”

For a second, I really hated her. Then I remembered she was my good friend. “Why do they necessarily need to be trying hard if they’re wearing shorts?” I asked her. “Also, weren’t they at the beach? If anything, they probably just eren’t* trying hard to be covered at all.” She started to respond, but I was annoyed, and also starting to think out loud.
“This is why I love Wesleyan. At Wes, I can wear whatever I want, and no one will think I’m doing it for anyone else. I can actually express myself and not be judged, you know? I have a friend whose cheeks are peeking out all the time. She doesn’t do it on purpose. It just happens, and then she fixes them, but she doesn’t stress over it because she knows that clothes aren’t made to fit black bodies, and there’s nothing she can really do about it.
The thing that sucks is that once you leave campus, everyone forgets about that. All of a sudden, you’re dressing to attract the interest of men. It’s like everything that you do is to put yourself on display for the world, despite the fact that you’re actually dressing because you’re confident, and you like the way you look.”

The ironic thing was that at the moment, I was wearing a leopard-print jumpsuit and red blazer. I looked fierce. Or I looked ridiculous, depending on your mindset. My friend was trying to talk again, but I cut into her. Again. Her voice was too weak, anyway.

“I really don’t like this place. People here have such small mindsets. Everyone just regurgitates things they’ve heard without even thinking about them, like the idea that girls who wear short shorts don’t respect themselves, or whatever nonsense the patriarchy put into their heads as another method of disenfranchising women. You honestly can’t win. Either you cover yourself up and are ashamed of your body*, conforming to a subservient and acquiescing standard, or you dress freely, and have to deal with sexual harassment that people will say you deserve. But it’s like that Everywhere! Oh, I miss my campus. The worst part is that I’m sure some girls are trying hard when they wear little clothing, and they aren’t just dressing for themselves. But aren’t you also trying hard when you induce sweat and discomfort, just so that you can seem chaste and respectable? Didn’t you use to wear crop tops and belly shirts and little shorts before your boyfriend told you not to do that anymore? The problem is that you don’t know who’s thinking what anymore, and in the meantime, everyone’s busy judging everyone else using stupid little unthoughtful examples, and it’s actually like everyone just has the same, copied-over mindset. Oh, people who don’t think are the worst!”
This had turned into a full-out rant that could have been somewhat insulting to my friend, as without noticing, I had implied that her mindset was stupid and she didn’t think on the same level that I did. I wondered if she was upset.

“I know,” she told me. “That’s why I can’t talk to as many people at home these days.”

 

*I understand that not everyone who covers herself is ashamed. Being completely covered is liberating in its own way, and I’m actually really looking forward to that when I’m in Cameroon. I just don’t like the idea that women who cover themselves are morally superior, or better marriage material, or whatever other bullshit.