Everyone gets to the anniversary of an era to say they’ve grown up. I think I’ve grown out. I’ve split through my seams and frayed at the hem and the only thread that held up, I pulled for luck, lifting scissors to cut while my head caves in from the in and out, out and in questions: Am I doing enough? Have I done too much?
I’ve learned New York will do that to a woman. But I’ve surprised myself with softness as much as I’ve hardened. I’ve loved, in teaspoons smaller than doses, but I have loved — no one other than thee one who I’ve been carving — but those, too, who carefully thought to smooth my jaded edges and polish my jagged surface, then brush my dust so I can breathe (even when wet, even when mud). I have loved those patient enough to reap my trust.
It’s been six years in this city, six years of the sun rising and shadow falling with capriciousness in which even I can’t compete, but you will never see more than we’ve showed you. You can never know more than I’ve told you. Sometimes I wish I could lay down and outline my skin with my story on the pavement, then disappear into its sediment without sentiment. I wish I could animate the whispers I’ve carried with me into a black and white, speckled film — tie your sight to the reel until your sclerae burst into fiery forests and gasoline pours from your aqueducts, burning through the hues (however muted) and vases of arrangements I’ve so long hid behind in stills, but still…
I crush the chalk. New York motions me home, tucking my blonde beneath her sleeve. She makes me grow beyond my stitching and lets me go when I need leaving. I can be calm and I can be crass and I can be cruel to tout the magma core of my past; she can’t hurt my feelings anymore than I can make her feel anything at all. She won’t smile, and her eyes neither roll nor ball, and never will she offer consolation. We are who we are — never the breathless explanation.
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Photographed on film by Susannah Knox / @szknox