My friend Erin is small in all ways except her personality- she’s short and svelte and her register is so high you can tell she’s a trained and professional opera singer. She looks like the kind of girl that would be the perfect top-of-the-pyramid cheerleader- she’d never land a foot on anyone’s head. At least, never on purpose, she’d say with a tight lipped smile. But Erin has a laugh will rip right through your vertebrae, leaving behind a feeling like pouring Pop Rocks into a bottle of Sprite. My phone autocorrects Erin’s name into all capital letters. She’s quick, bright and brash like her red-henna-died hair. And she just decided to stop waiting for her career in comedy and went looking for it at Sally O’Briens. Sunday night we’re leaving Laugh Boston and 10 minutes later she’s drumming her hands on the steering wheel, careening across the seaport, proclaiming to the heavens and inevitably the people in the cars next to us that she is so much better than every Young White Male Boston comic!! and she isn’t wrong. She turns to me (I’d like to say it was at a red light, but.) and says she isn’t gonna wait anymore. Her list of reasons to be scared to break into the Boston comedy scene is long and Really Real and Mostly Named Craig Or Some Other Bland Boy Name, but Wednesday morning rolls around and she has done 2 open mics already.
Erin is the kind of girl I want to be.
So many of my generation are trying to get from place to place by doing back walk-overs on a tightrope of Wild Self-Aggrandizing Love stretched across the Grand Trash Canyon Where Self-Love Goes To Die. And this feat of emotional gymnastics is hard enough, but then imagine you’re fully inverted, halfway through your 6th backflip, tired and a little dizzy, when you look up to see the Government Drone of Wealth Disparity floating above you, absolutely still, dart guns trained on you with your back in a C curve and all your soft fleshy bits exposed to the sky. How else are you supposed to cope besides splurging for Spotify Premium and Prime Now-ing a face mask?
The most dangerous part of all of this, of course, is that the tightrope is anchored not to the ground, but somewhere inside the folds of Mitch McConnell’s neck.
But I digress. Though you could argue I never actually gress-ed to start with.
My point here is, does anyone know what we’re doing? Does anyone know why I keep forgetting to drink water between the hours of 12am and 11:59pm but cannot stop drinking kombucha? Does anyone know why I keep making lists of things I want to do but never doing the things on the list? Does anyone know why the only time I remember to trim my bangs is on my break at work? Does anyone know when I’ll have time to do my laundry? And on a separate and definitely not related note, does anyone want to buy me some new Aerie underwear?
I need a hush-hush church basement meeting for people who keep trying to bend themselves into new and unknown glyphs in the hopes they might accidentally stumble upon a new language spoken only by the boy with the smoldering eyes and the bass guitar at the bar. I need an AA for the ones who know we’re using a sieve as a bowl but just can’t find time to open the cabinet. I need a 12 Step for people who can’t sit still on trains.
This year caressed the back of my head, ran its fingers through my hair, and then made a fist and pulled tight. The same thing my mother does to me when I have a headache. A dulling of the pain by introducing something worse, the slow pop of hairs divorcing from follicle and the sound sitting on the toothpick-thin edge between pleasure and pain the only song I stop to sing along to between Maggie Rogers tracks.
I’m living my Modern Dance Teacher Fashion dreams today, layers of boxy soft shirts and toenail polish left on from the week before New Years. (A moment please to wonder collectively how toe nail polish stays on so long. I’m adding it to my list of World’s Most Mysterious Truths, sandwiched somewhere between musings on why you can hear advice you know you need better when it’s sung to you and thoughts about the magic of dancing down the sidewalk like you’re in a music video.) Today I do my warmups to the dulcet tones of a big deep breath in through the nose, and hold, and hold, and hold, and out through the mouth.
Tilting my head back to rest in my hands, palms pressed flat against the curve of my skull to soothe the sting, elbows spread wide to the side, chest open.
All my soft fleshy bits exposed to the world.