The Chicka Sisterhood

{May 24, 2008}   Eye.

The second time she was reborn, she was picked up by a cone-shaped cloud, flown fifteen miles, and deposited squarely in the center of a cattle pasture. It was a geometric, mystical experience that smelled of cow shit and dust and left her with a crude, rhombus-shaped scar on the side of her face.

But that was just the second time.

The first time she was reborn, medical machines were disconnected, and the breathing tube was taken from her throat, and she was allowed to float to the surface of some sort of anesthetic. She joked. She laughed. And then she felt bile coming from the pit of her stomach, and she screamed. She had needles poking into her veins every few hours for a few days, and then she was released back into the wild. She was a lab rat, holding a duffel bag in her lap, and being pushed in a wheelchair into the middle of downtown Cleveland. Naked and nameless.

Either way, she’s around now.

The funny thing about tornadoes is that they strip you of everything but your dignity. That is, they strip you of everything but your dignity unless you’re a trailer-park dweller in the middle of Kansas or Oklahoma or Nebraska, and then you, your dirty children and your food stamps will show up clearly on the evening news so all of Middle America can inspect the wreckage and the brunette roots sprouting from your bleached blond head. Everyone else might agonize, in private, over an impending storm, and then they lock themselves in bathrooms or closets with mattresses over their heads. And when it all passes, they might even feel a sick sort of adrenaline-laced pride from surviving.

Her? She never felt that pride the first time she was reborn. The second time, though–well, the second time always changes everyone.


{March 11, 2008}   Drawing the L.

Two women are walking toward each other, forming the straight, perpendicular lines of an L.  If you looked quickly, you might think a mirror had broken somewhere on an Oklahoma horizon, and one woman had become two.  One woman had morphed into a slightly different reflection of herself.  Distorted.  Like a funhouse mirror.

This is because our lives are like carnivals.

One woman is taller than the other, lighter haired, slimmer.  The other is shorter, curvier, darker.  Both walk in long strides, high heeled, eyes up and not focused on anything in particular.  Each woman’s right foot hits the pavement below the curb at the exact same moment.  Each woman’s left foot pulls one step ahead.  Each woman hits the halfway mark of a crosswalk, and when a black car pulls up at each crosswalk, both women ignore it.  Both women reach the other side of the street at the same moment.  The cars, however, do not.

When the women reach the angle of the L, the taller woman stops and lets the shorter woman go past.  They cross each other and travel the other’s former path.  The shorter woman begins to walk more quickly now, as if traveling another’s path is more dangerous than forging your own.

As if it is.  I’ve always felt that way, myself.

{January 30, 2008}   Who I am.

I was 6 the first time I moved. My father wanted to start a business in Maryland, which was 250 miles from home. I was too young to cry.

Fifteen months later, I had just turned 8, and we moved back home.

Nearly twenty years later, I have lived in five different houses, four different apartments, a duplex and a dorm room, and I can’t figure out where I want to stay or who I want to be today.

I’ll tell you what I think I know for sure:

I am 27. I have five goldfish, four holes in my earlobes, three university degrees, two younger brothers, one loving boyfriend and a set of never-divorced parents. I say that Cleveland, Ohio is home, and I believe that. I have a large Catholic family with an Irish surname and illegitimate ties to famous ancestors. I believe in life-long commitment where I can get it. So far, I’ve found it in family, a couple of terminally patient friends, and a partner who doesn’t mind when I have very unfeminine gas.

I like vegan food and cable TV political shows, and I prefer dogs over cats. I pride myself on being a good communicator, and then I feel guilty for my pride. I am often rational and pragmatic to a fault and thus force myself to save trinkets for which I might one day feel sentimental. I don’t thrive in business offices but have little experience elsewhere, so I take photographs and write to save my soul. I may or may not speak decent Spanish depending on who you ask and how inebriated they are when they answer.

I like figuring myself out, but not so much that I feel boxed in. And yet here I am, writing to you from within this little box. Funny how that works, innit?

et cetera