self-ish

I am a comma. Sometimes I think writing about yourself is an act of narcissism. I question the value of literature almost everyday. I wonder if I am asexual. I love books but they’re a bit like men, where they can tire me, and wreck and drain. I am startled both when someone likes me and when they don’t. Sometimes I catch myself practising to love myself. I am continously surprised by existence, by the verb and noun: be and being. I don’t like reading plays. Dialogue is tiring, in reality or the page. I am constantly plucking thorns out of my middle. It is paradoxical – a painful extraction of pain itself. White men intimidate me. I think society has taught me that they are intimidating; I am an active member of society. I hate running, it reminds me of the difficulty of breathing. I am not asthmatic. I’m planning an exhibition about dreams. Or pillow books. I’ve lived on four continents. My favourite emojis are of the sunflower, the crescent moon, the wilting rose and the cup of coffee. I tend to live up to several stereotypes imposed upon me. I still remember my friend from high school telling me “You’re kinda selfish”. I still remember calling my friend fat in kindergarten. I used the word “large”. I feel jealousy very frequently. I think an exceptional amount about love. Technology is a bad lover to me. I have felt true flickering moments of happiness in these places: a rainy January night in New York City, a late afternoon floating in the Dead Sea, the pride parade in Manhattan, a Daniel Caesar concert in Paris, in the middle of a conversation at the Grahamstown Arts Festival, staring at the sky from the Piazza di Michelangelo in Florence, laughing throughout a dinner in Rome, stepping off my high school stage in Botswana, taking a shower after my surprise 19th birthday party in my dorm in Abu Dhabi, and finishing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on my mother’s bed. I thought I would be happier when a guy told me he loved me. Like a circle had finished being drawn. I am often scared of opening my mouth. I like the sound of my voice. Sometimes I sound like I have a cold, or I’ve just woken up, or just smoked a cigarette, or spent some time amongst Americans, or Arabs, or French people, or my best friend from Jamaica, or Indians. These all, sometimes, may be true. I don’t think I’m particularly likeable. In a TV show, I’d be a supporting character you might feel conflicted about. I have spent too many moments of my life aspiring to be white. I like tree-lined avenues. I like lying faceup on the backseat during a road trip, and skimming over treetops with my eyes, through the car window. I don’t like mangoes and always add a disclaimer that I am probably the only one. Fruits and flowers have a lot of mathematics in their makeup. Fruits and flowers always connote femininity and yet are keyholes of science. I talk in a kiddish gush because I spent most of my childhood either quiet or angry. I don’t have anyone to spoon with but the thought of spooning is comforting. I frequently do not like my face. I think I am a pretty girl but a pretty where someone took a sweaty thumb to a lovely woman’s image and then smudged her a bit. I’ve touched a snake. I have never held a gun. I have never seen heroin or cocaine or MDMA in front of me. I search for the cold side of the pillow. At parties, I start out pretty awkwardly because I don’t know how to talk to people. Some people say I have a British accent but I watch only American and Indian shows (and one Danish). I’ve never been to Britain. I recognize I am too quickly judgemental, but I suspect a large number of my judgements are accurate. For some periods of my life, I’ve challenged myself not to cry for at least one day per week. I’m too emotionally sensitive to be a debater. I have loved a debater but never when he was debating. I think “I” is annoying. Social media tells me too many things I do not want to know, and too little of what I do. But I like the control I exert over how people see me. And get disheartened when I realize that I cannot control that control, that that control is always pretty tenous. Some things I like living for include messages that make you smile eye-crinkle-deep. They can be messages from your phone, your friend, your “person”, your brain, your universe. I’ve fallen in love over two years. I’ve fallen in love over two weeks. I’ve only had one crush on a girl and she had blue hair. I think I rationalize my way out of my flaws too much. My phone storage is always full. I like taking pictures but I don’t know how to work a fancy camera. I secretly want to make films. I spend hours walking around, setting life into something cinematic, a scene. I often think about one of my friend’s descriptions of me, where he wrote that I want to “make everything around me beautiful”. My favourite cities were New York and Paris, even before I finally lived in them. My best memories of Paris: picking 4 euro wines from Franprix, the blush of the ancient buildings during late afternoon, writing essays at Loulou’s on St Michel, light buttery croissants at Gare de Lyon before work, 95 cent baguettes, happy hour at Châtelet, picnics by the water, strolling through Montmartre with a sense of familiarity, even ownership, seeing the Eiffel Tower pass by from the window of the 6 train, the room of unfinished hand sculptures at the Museé Rodin, looking at the rain from inside a cafe, warm Nutella crepes, sitting in front of the paintings at Museé de l’Orangerie, watching people smoke, skin golden from a setting sun, and the cheap yellow umbrellas on sale at the grocery. With New York, I am still learning. I read somewhere that the “self” is an inconstant thing, always in a state of change like a chameleon, and this comforts me. My “self” always feels, in my hands, like a slippery eel thrashing in my grip. I am a collection of punctuation: ellipses…and marks, questions and exclamations. I am a comma,

 

Artwork by Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States”, 1932

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