After I keep hearing about people being lost to random circumstances, I start to hear more and more from people coming back to life in my inbox, my phone, my memory. I start to hear from people who are reaching out to ask how I am doing but I ask them right back what exactly - given the recent present past and passed - they are inquiring about.
I ask people about themselves these days because they expect to be asked, not necessarily by me, but definitely by some sort of support to validate the feeling of being robbed of your home when you are not even a tenant, but just sleeping on the couch. You may have been invited but the couch is still not yours, for better or for worse. Think of all the birds plucked bare to stuff all the pillows.
My cohost and I have been deliberate with our language to encourage others to set aside their Saturday evening for us tonight. Pocket your purpose of politics in place of social fulfillment to support our attempt at creating culture. We did this, we made this, here's a copy you can hold in your hands and shelve at home. Come for a hot meal, come for some live reading, come for some community. The doors will be open, but we will close them at midnight.
We are early in order to light the candles (non-vigil) and prepare the stew (sans flesh) and run out for more beer (expected). Bitters and seltzer. Paper towel. I suggest more black pepper to the Caribbean cauliflower and coconut milk simmering in the large stock pot; it is not sweet but it doesn't bite me at first either. I am anxious about seeing so many people I know at once, my slipshod homecoming needs pain to relieve me. The tongue is the fastest healing part of your body.
I read aloud in the middle of the night. We are not using a microphone because I am told it will enhance the sensation of the audience conversing with the reader. The space is full: half familiar faces, half strangers. Cauliflower stew and baguette slices. Beer. Wine. Books and zines and vinyl. We are launching.
I read aloud in the middle of the night. I read a response to the response to our political timing; it is elusive in democratic or republican language and does not ask questions independently. I did not intend to read it tonight to a room of half strangers, half friends. What I did intend to deliver comes next, revised modestly and curtly from its original format. I am performing myself for the room of half strangers and half friends, I am performing for them so that they think it is a story but it is not a fable or fantasy. I remind people afterwards: My piece was non-fiction.
I read aloud for five minutes my non-fiction: sex and sexual debasement, body and bodily derangement.
I am performing myself for the room and command attention with my voice and stance. I look up to meet the eyes of both friends and strangers. I am performing and receiving laughter and silence and applause. I am told that it was nice to hear. I am told that it was funny. I am told that it struck a chord and made a difference. I am told that others are so glad they heard it, even in the back of the space full of bodies. What does my history differ for your present? I am thanked for my story, I am elevated by my negation of myself.
I did this for you for five minutes out loud.
I performed myself without politics.
I read sex and sexual debasement, body and bodily derangement.
I made the room laugh, I made the room clap.
The night, I am told afterwards as I wait for a friend's car to midtown, was a resounding success.
I fall asleep with all my clothes on, on a couch that is not mine.