Never the Hurricane: Letter to A Younger Queer Me
“I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, but never the hurricane.”
― Jeffrey McDaniel
I can’t give you inspiration. That’s what I think you want; it’s what I fear you want. I have been avoiding your eyes. I have been pretending to be asleep. I have been thanking the Graces for caller ID.
One reason why I’ve been trying to lose you? I actually don’t remember you that well. Something tells me that it behooves me to keep your silhouette dim. What I can bear to remember through the scrim of years: you are hungry, you are the shipwreck and the savior, you are a typhoon with hands, always clutching hands. Beseeching, reaching. And now you reach for me and the map of a nearing-40 year-old. And some answers, maybe. But I have no answers — only flares shot back in the past to your dark. To say: there’s something to walk forward for. I don’t know if it’s enough, but I am talking to the girl who once decided to not kill herself because of the way a woman put on her coat. So I know you know how to warm yourself with just rumors of ember.
Okay. Let’s get to the most pressing matter, shall we? Yes, you will have sex. You are all operatic with churn and longing, and you think It will never happen to you. It will. Again and again. Better and better. You have been taught that it is a duty at best, a humiliation at worst. You know something about sexual humiliation, but this? This is ache turned to aria — you, of the tortured journal entries, sensed another world was possible. Sometimes longing finds its measure.
But this doesn’t mean you have poured your desire in a cup. I know you are anguished about not knowing if you’re straight? gay? confused? transcendent? (See: the journal entries.) The question will fade away, and the answer will be palimpsest. What remains is that you are fugitive and some kind of free. Queer, in other words.
Yes, you will live past 22.
You will be emancipated from your glacier. Somewhat. Someone suggested that you are frigid — ie, not enthused about plunder — and you’ve been checking your temperature ever since. You needn’t worry. You run hot and even your spare tire is passion. But there is still some ice, some part of yourself that is cold and so remote that it takes more than a few days to row to. This is okay.
And you are right — they are wrong about almost everything that matters.
You will do something mundane and impossible: learn to look the world in the eye. You will start slowly, counting to three before you look away. 1 – 2 – 3, relief. Try again. Hold a gaze longer. Discover you won’t melt, that you won’t Medusa a friend into oblivion by lacing gazes — no matter how much your breath squeezes. Being seen isn’t fatal. This knowledge will change you utterly. So much so that when your cousin sees you walking down the street, he won’t recognize you. He will say that he didn’t recognize this glacier girl with head held high. Melt and coalesce, melt and coalesce. Shapeshift. Study the sidewalk but don’t forget the sky.
So much that you will learn. You will learn that under your nice girl you host an assassin. You will learn that you are your own Swiss Army knife. You learn more than you want to know about gratuitous cruelty — and also about the kindness that shows itself and then walks away. The unknown woman who came up and kissed you without a word as you were weeping outside of ICU. The random stranger angel that offered to find a store, just to buy you an umbrella. (Had anyone truly wanted you out of the rain before that moment?)
And there’s so much you can teach me. About how to be slain by a certain slant of light. You bawled for four straight hours after you left the sea — embarrassing your mother and making everyone ask, “Is she alright?” No, I’m not alright, and neither are you — but at least we will always have the hurricane. You spilling girl, you messy child, fingerpainting the world with feeling: teach me why and how to stay.