rainandsonder

United States

"the audience is only safe when the story isn't about them."

they/them - probably listening to sufjan stevens

Message from Writer

an important piece by outoftheblue- https://bit.ly/3dBxv5r

black lives matter & pride is over but the fight for lgbt+ rights is year round.

bio quote is from the magnus archives

lessons on identity

October 3, 2020

FREE WRITING

27
1. i still don't know how to snap or whistle or ride a bike. i've been to two weddings and one funeral, and the latter barely counts since the memory is blurry and fleeting when i can dig it up. i've lived in seven different houses and three different states. re-construction of identity is not unfamiliar to me. look around: everything we have is pulsing in the night like a beacon. like an anglerfish. 

2. i am young enough that my childhood is still sore. i wince if you prod it. all my yearbooks are kept on the bottom left corner of my bookshelf, half-hidden by an unused canvas and a box of school supplies, and i still don't know how to articulate why. i glimpse an old picture of myself over my dad's shoulder, and for a second i don't recognize my own face. the brief, disconnected judgement of my own appearance, the casualty that we afford strangers but can't seem to re-direct towards ourselves. when i realize who i'm looking at, my skin crawls. 

3. imagine the house you lived in when you were five. imagine that house, re-constructed, slightly to the left. it is your home. look, your shoes. your books. a family portrait on the mantel. it is not your home. the couch wasn't that stiff, you didn't choose that bedspread. did you? it is your home and it is not your home depending on what you trust. it is your home and it is not your home depending on how much you care.

4. even my most vivid memories don't feel as though they belong to me, but to a version of myself, re-constructed, standing slightly to the left. when i wake and glance at my clock, it is 3:36 AM and suddenly i can't remember if i fell asleep at all. something warped and residual is left in my head but i can't remember if it was dream or reality. i am me and i am not me depending on what i trust. i am me and i am not me depending on how much i care. at lunch, my dad tells my brother that there is no past you or future you, there is only you. and, i think, you can't remain a stranger to yourself for your whole life. 

5. i stare at my hands under the fluorescent lights. sooner or later, i realize, i am going to have to wake up. 
i'm not sure what this is but i felt like i had to get it out. change is scary, especially when it comes to realizing who you are, especially as a teenager, and especially if that identity turns out to be queer. any other queer people on this site feel like you have really mixed feelings on your childhood? this piece isn't necessarily about being in the closet so much as it is accepting who you are but for me it's hard to separate feelings about identity without thinking about that so that definitely is part of it. anyway, would love to hear others' experiences and thoughts!

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20 Comments
  • Jasmine_K

    i'm back to read this piece again. forgot how breathless it left me last time, and now i'm breathless all over again in the best way.


    4 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    I've lived in 6 homes until now though they were in the same state. I understand your pang of re-construction of our identity and how your house feels like home partially only.
    The wisdom in your Dad's words... Wow! There's only You!
    Sleeping disorders, I don't know when will I get past that!
    Bookmarked this to read many more times! :)


    4 months ago
  • lochnessie

    re: thank you and thank you and thank you and this is amazing
    <3


    4 months ago
  • kiranpark

    re: ahhh thank you so much !! but omg i literally had so,,, many,, typos,,, in that piece PLEASE IGNORE. also WOW this piece is gorgeous-- there seems to be a sort of underlying tension in it that makes for an gradual build up of this unsettling vibe and then the the last lil' passage almost felt like someone clapped right in front of my face and snapped me out of it. i love it.


    5 months ago
  • fatpanda

    i love the first line so much, and how it ties in with the rest of the piece. “i still don’t know how to snap or whistle or ride a bike” would be an excellent first line for any piece, really, and i think it’s beautiful how this early in the piece you’re able to connect it with the title - i think it’s the little things that count in writing, and you’ve used that tool very well. (also the last two lines were absolutely asdgafhsl)
    i think this is when i first realized how hazey this piece comes across as, and definitely in a good way. it seems like the narrator themself is looking at the scene from behind a glass (if i’m wrong about that, i’m sorry) but when i, as a reader go through it, it is as though behind another glass screen, and i think this is wonderful. again, brilliant first line. it’s so intelligent, how you connect every single thing that would generally all belong to other pieces and stitch them together in each sequence, and then tie-in all the individual sequences with each other ahhhhh i absolutely adore this piece.
    beautiful shift from ‘i’ to ‘you’ - i really like how that makes the piece almost conversational? love love love the ride from one line to the next, the apparent confusion and how personal this feels?
    i genuinely don’t know what to say about this point except that it’s beautiful beautiful beautiful. love the callback ‘slightly to the left’ and even though i don’t know what it means, i really like it. i mean, i appreciate it when there is some stuff in a poem that cannot be deciphered by anyone but the poet, and even though i have a feeling that i’ll never understand what you mean by it, i know i’ll keep coming back to this piece. i love how deeply personal this piece is and so i’m not very sure if a comment like this is appropriate, and if it’s not, i apologize.
    anyway, this was an absolutely spectacular piece, it’s clear that you wrote it with such weight behind each word, and just *wow*.
    about your footnotes - i think for the reason you wrote about, most of my life before ninth grade is a haze, and i think i have no more than a couple of memories from each year. my identity was constantly changing and i think i was always trying to impress people, but when i realized that i was queer, it almost went away? i think that this realization of my sexuality and gender (though if you asked me to label either one of them, i won’t be able to, so i use the closest words i can to them) has sort of just thrown those memories to a place where i can’t reach them? i tend not to think about them anymore but that’s also because i was sad for most of my childhood, but i really think that being queer has in a way helped to clear off that haze, if only a little bit.


    5 months ago
  • queenie

    reaperandskeleton


    5 months ago
  • fatpanda

    no lie i've been ghosting your profile ever since ive been inactive and you won't believe all the pieces i've bookmarked. will leave a proper comment when my brain un-turns into mush but this piece!!! ahhhhhhh beautiful


    5 months ago
  • roo.writes

    re: thank you for the kind words! i'm glad this story made you feel something :)


    5 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    re: thank you so much for the kind comment!! it means a lot to me <3 I'm really glad that you liked my piece!! Also every time i see this piece i can't help but read it this is SO GOOD AHHHHHHH <3 <3 <3


    5 months ago
  • Aurora26

    Wow! This piece is just so simple in its complexity, I love it! The writing is so beautiful, no to mention relatable:)

    Re: Thank you so much for commenting on my piece! I love Sufjan Stevens too! Call me by your name introduced me to him and I have never looked back


    5 months ago
  • queenie

    re: thank you. also, yes, it's spoop month, finally.


    5 months ago
  • antizoeclub

    okay firstly i'm so glad that i got the chance to see this, because !! wow!! you're so talented and it means lots that you enjoyed my piece ah :)) i could quote this entire thing, it's so perfectly done. also, re! i listen to too many bands to count but i like the smiths, big thief, the beths, alvvays, fleetwood mac, peach pit... anything along the indie rock line i guess hahah


    5 months ago
  • Eblinn

    "when i wake and glance at my clock, it is 3:36 AM and suddenly i can't remember if i fell asleep at all."
    "my dad tells my brother that there is no past you or future you, there is only you. "
    This piece spoke to me on another level, I feel like you captured the feeling of disconnection to your past (and present) self perfectly. It hurts my brain thinking about the fact that there is no present or future 'you'. Like what even are memories?? How does time work?? Okay, that's probably another kind of discussion. But, this piece is really unique and so relatable.


    5 months ago
  • Wisp

    "i glimpse an old picture of myself over my dad's shoulder, and for a second i don't recognize my own face. the brief, disconnected judgement of my own appearance"
    "something warped and residual is left in my head but i can't remember if it was dream or reality."
    There's something so momentous in your words, so strong yet so vulnerable at the same time. It's powerful, yet it's soft, and I don't mean that in a bad way. This piece is like reading in between the lines and finding something that you never noticed before. It's rediscovery in the greatest way possible.


    5 months ago
  • Jasmine_K

    "look around: everything we have is pulsing in the night like a beacon. like an anglerfish."
    "i am young enough that my childhood is still sore. i wince if you prod it."
    "the couch wasn't that stiff, you didn't choose that bedspread. did you?"
    these lines took my breath away. i'm not sure what i'm trying to say in this comment, just, wow. thank you.


    5 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Merp
    https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/193257/version/392467


    5 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    Re: YES that is exactly what I mean, the feeling of both terror and comfort. Like you said, the impermanence of the world really hits me sometimes. I also do that with pain—like, sometimes I push myself reaaaally hard because I know the suffering will only last for so long and someday I'll look back on it and it won't hurt anymore...
    So I feel like it's both a good but also potentially unhealthy way of thinking lmao


    5 months ago
  • AliMuscles04

    I relate to this so much. I too have moved several times, feel obligated to keep certain things, and a lot more that you've said. I have been trying to rebuild my identity for so long, but I know I can never get rid of my past. I understand needing to get something like this off your chest. I am currently doing a short series about something similar. You don't have to look at it, but the main title is A Tribute to Four (there will be five parts, and the fifth will sum everything up and more).


    5 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Woah. This piece completely floored me. I'm having trouble typing this, because I'm shaking, and I don't know what to say.
    "i am young enough that my childhood is still sore."
    Um. Ouch. That is all.
    "when i wake and glance at my clock, it is 3:36 AM and suddenly i can't remember if i fell asleep at all. something warped and residual is left in my head but i can't remember if it was dream or reality."
    That is insane.
    I'm rambling now... Can I use this format for something? (and maybe a variant of the title?) I'll definitely give you credit. It might take me a long time to write. Or it'll show up in an hour. Or not at all.


    5 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    wow, yeah, this is so powerful. I had a really... well, a really good childhood, to be completely honest. Sometimes nostalgia hits and all i want is to go back to where everything was more simple (i don't know if this is what you were trying to write about but it kinda spoke to me in that way). As for the past/future selves thing, that made me think, because I do this weird thing where i'm doing something and I like... start to disconnect from it because I realize that everything I do is just a memory? like... it's a weird way of thinking but like, it doesn't matter how I feel at the moment (i mean it does but in a different way) because someday I'll look back on it and all it will be is a memory...
    anyways sorry i'm tired and like to talk about philosophical crap :) I really like this piece.


    5 months ago