< Writing


Capital G

Girls to the Front zine issue #10

Miss D’Isabella wore a bunch of silver rings stacked across her fingers. “I feel naked” / “If I leave the house without them on”. She said once.

She taught us how to write cursive letters with white chalk. It was all so picturesque. I remember thinking this even then, that the set was designed so perfectly for my future memories. Like I was already an old woman on a porch looking back at myself at this desk. This seven year old sitting at this desk in an inner-city Catholic School, with broken windows, with crumbling brick walls, with a church at the center of the building, with upholstered chairs that made your legs itch, and the unmarried seventh grade Language Arts teacher who lived across the street in a one bedroom apartment with his friend Juan, the school Janitor.

Rows of children fashioned in a mass produced repeatable plaid likeness of God’s Salvation.

Oh, how this mighty, religious, broken indoctrination would invite home in me such a narrative, I thought to myself, even then, as Miss D’Isabella marked the passing of time by looping the top-left corner of a capital ‘G’. I loved to watch her shackled fingers dancing like this. 

A’s lips were dark. They weren’t like mine. And I liked that. She reminded me of a doll I had. I invited her over to play so I could spend hours studying her in our play scenarios. How does A move her perfect hands? Let me find out. Let’s paint! How does A play? Let me find out. Let’s pretend we live outside under this tree and will forever!

On Monday I was terrified. I thought everyone could see how I knew exactly what A smelled like and how I knew the exact shape of her eyes and how I knew that I wanted to kiss the lips that didn’t look like mine. I suddenly felt the terror that if anything embarrassing should happen to me, this would now be infinitely worse, because she might see and then my chances of ever kissing her would be forever ruined. I must be careful. I must be perfect. I have so much to overcome. I thought, as I looked at the boys seated in the desks in front of me.

The plaid kilts reminded me that I should never tell anyone about my careful and perfect plan for Her.

If I begin to love who I truly want to love, then I can be hurt. And so maybe God was protecting me, I wondered. Even though I’d stopped believing in Him right around the time Miss D’Isabella finished her long series of cursive ‘G’s.

Plaid veins run through me in an orderly web that enjoys very much to remind me of my mother’s religion and how badly I’d like for her to tell me she’s proud.

The plaid intersects upon itself, creating order in a grid- a noble plan. The lines foreshadow their own parallels and provide another option every few inches in the form of 90 degree angles. “You can be redeemed” the crossing line whispers in intervals to the one I am running on. I trace the lines with my fingers. The faster I run, the more often I hear it.

I think about using holy water as lube. Isn’t this body holy? I begin to not trust my mind. I begin to fear my pleasure. I begin to fear the things I feel. I begin training myself to like boys. I put a lot of effort into this. I get very good at it. They call me boy crazy. I am relieved.

And when I was 12 and did kiss a pair of lips that I truly wanted to kiss, for me only, the plaid reminded me not to tell anyone. And when I was 15 and tasted a girl for the first time, at her parent’s beach house, after drinking Wild Turkey, I told everyone at school that she was gay and I stopped answering her messages. And when I was 16 and fucked a girl in my best friend’s basement, I went to school and stole her boyfriend because she didn’t cum. And when I dated women, I made sure they never knew me. I made sure they never touched me. And one day, I hunted for myself, a man. A man who liked a quiet version of me. And when I was 30 I almost married him so I could be exactly that.

Yet A rises in me. Like a melody from some distant chamber orchestra composed of ghosts who float in tidy lines, and take marching orders from the anarchists who burn churches. And as they intersect, like plaid, they pass right through each other. Telling me it’s possible to become.

As their chamber songs swell to the surface of a carefully curated life, they cry out for me to claim what is mine. They cry out for me to be redeemed in a divine sense of self. They tell me the pain I cause others is a fractal of the pain I cause myself and therefore I can never claim martyrdom after knowing what I know now.

I tell them I’ve never known anything more true than this.