A Women’s Only Championship is a Bad Idea. Period.

Motorsport is not made for women.

 

Motorsport is a world run by men, designed only for men to participate.  It is an area that glorifies testosterone and masculine apathy in the face of danger.  In motorsport, we call our cars “she”, and they’re the only ‘women’ allowed to actively participate in an event; all the other real, human women are dolled up and silenced, artfully placed like decorative objects in key places around the circuit.  Seen, not heard.  Men get to attend races unbothered; any women who show up must simply be there as a pretty accoutrement for a passionate boyfriend/husband/brother.  Motorsport is a “gentlemen’s sport”, a “boy’s club”.  Motorsport is not made for women.

 

And, yet, women are still passionate about it anyway.

 

And that is exactly why motorsport needs to change.

 

___

 

Rumors of a woman’s F1 championship have been floating around for months now.  Vague hints here and there, but no real plan to enact it – until now.

 

On November 28, the DailyMail announced that plans are in the works for a potential all-female F1 championship to emerge in 2019, despite public backlash surrounding the idea every single time another rumor leaks out.  The series would consist of six races – five in Europe, one in America – with the ever-so-desirable championship winner to be awarded with… an F1 test drive.

 

The all-female sport is intended to rival F1 in prestige and significance, they say.

 

Which is why it only makes sense that women are to be awarded with what is, potentially, the least significant opportunity in Formula One.  They are not offered a chance to race an F1 car – no, they only get to test one.  And, as F1 fans have seen time and time again, talented drivers who are relegated to a test driver role have a hard time being guaranteed a full-season drive if they aren’t specifically contracted to earn one.

 

If this championship is supposed to be an equal with Formula One, then why is Formula One still ranked higher than them on the motorsport hierarchy?  If two CEOs of a company are considered to hold equal share and sway in that company, one of those CEOs should not still have to strive to reach the level of control of the other.  That is not the definition of equality.

 

If this championship is supposed to be an equal, why do the women only get six races to F1’s twenty-plus?  Why do they keep calling it equal, and then claiming it would be second only to F1?  Why can’t women just race a goddamn Formula One car?

 

The Implications

 

An all-female championship would be historic, and it would be groundbreaking.  But it would still be an Exceptionally Bad Idea, for an exceptional amount of reasons.

 

This is, above all, an excuse to stop having to strive for diversity within F1.  The Powers That Be are so horrified by the thought of having a woman compete alongside – or beat – a man that they’re willing to hook a woman’s championship up to an IV and pump millions of dollars into it, when it would be far simpler to support women from the ground up (which I’ll detail later).  It is a much more appealing option to cobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of a championship for women than it is to actually just sponsor a woman on her way up to the top, and that is an incredibly disturbing mindset.

 

Segregation has, historically, never been a Good Thing.  Segregation is the portioning-off of a minority group into a neat little box that can be shoved into the back of the cupboard and forgotten about while the majority gets to enjoy everything else in the pantry.  If the majority is in charge of creating “equality” for the minority, they won’t.  Simple as that.  When America segregated their schools, all the best resources were poured into the white schools, and black students were supposed to be grateful that they even had a school at all.

 

It is a similar concept here (albeit with much, much less institutionalized violence).  A female-only championship isn’t going to be equal.  It’s going to be a way for the men of F1 to say, “stop complaining, you already have your little championship, so let us have ours”.  It’s a very effective way to never have to worry about being bothered by a woman again.  You just smile when the Ladies’ Champion takes your car out for a test drive in the off-season, maybe a Friday practice, and you never have to worry about them again.

 

And that is Not Okay.

 

Motorsport generally and F1 specifically has fallen under criticism in recent years regarding their approach to women.  Calls have been made to end grid girls, to stop using women as podium décor, to make sure women don’t have to endure the very-unsubtly-coded spraying-with-champagne, to end random shots of women in garages on the broadcast, to quit upskirt photos and tit shots and images of rows of butts, to delete albums of Paddock Beauties.  Calls have been made to recognize successful female drivers making their way through the feeder categories, to acknowledge the hard-working women behind the scenes in the paddock, to aim for more equality and less general discrimination against women.

 

Somehow, that has been a very difficult prospect.  And I see a women’s championship being a very convenient way out for the men who don’t want to have to change.  If women don’t like the sexism they’re seeing in F1, well, they’ve got a whole series where they have exactly what they want, so go watch your little female drivers and let the men ogle underdressed women here in F1.  This thinly-veiled claim of feminism is just enabling the same old bigotry by a different name and a higher moral purpose.

 

Logistically, there are still many questions to be asked.  With only six races, is the women’s championship going to function as a feeder category, the quaint opening act before the Real Men Go Racing?  Are these women going to be contractually obligated to cater to pretty pink sponsors; will they end up falling victim to oversexualized demands?  It seems as though F1 has a very hard time taking women and their demands seriously.  One must be critical that this pursuit will just be a repetition of the same old patronizing behaviors.

 

The History

 

It is, currently, difficult to get women into motor racing because women have been excluded from motor racing for a long time.  The few attempts at women taking part in F1 races were duds; most didn’t qualify, and those that did (like Lella Lombardi) were talented but not given the means to show their mettle.  No woman has ever been a full-time series participant since the introduction of the F1 Championship.

 

As such, women and their success are unknown variables – at least in F1.  It seems ridiculous to use the logic that, “well, all the F1 champions have been men, not women…” when making a decision on who to sponsor, but the simple fact is that it is easier to justify sponsoring a man knowing that the sport is structured in such a way that he will have more opportunities to succeed than his female counterpart.  She, on the other hand, will face criticism, doubt, scrutiny, and pointed hostility every step of her way, all of which can impact her morale or the opinions of potential other sponsors and thereby mar opportunities for success.

 

So, it seems easy to argue that women just aren’t as successful.  Maybe there’s a reason they’re not in F1, huh?  Maybe women just aren’t capable of competing with men.

 

But this narrow-minded view does not consider other forms of motorsport where women are successful.  It does not consider the history of motorsport – of F1 – and the factors that have systematically discouraged women from racing.

 

Women have found success in NASCAR, IndyCar, sports cars, and drag racing.  While only one of these is technically an open-wheel series, it is still worth investigating what has enabled their participation in these categories as opposed to Formula One.

 

Danica Patrick is often the first woman who comes to mind when one mentions “female race car driver”.  She is visible and has been quite successful with a professional career spanning nearly two decades.  She holds the IRL record for most consecutive races finished, the only women’s victory in IndyCar, and the highest finish for a woman at the Indy 500 with a third place.  She was the first woman in NASCAR to win a Sprint Cup Series pole.  She has received criticism for her rise to success and for posing in risqué photoshoots for sponsors, thereby illustrating the double standard that women in motorsport have: you have a better chance of gaining a sponsorship if you take off your clothes, but then no one will take you seriously if you do.

 

Patrick’s path was paved by other brilliant women in American motorsport’s history.  Janet Guthrie was the first woman to compete in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, in a NASCAR race in general, and she is tied with Patrick for the highest NASCAR finish by a woman with a 6th place.  When Guthrie broke into these two sports, the hostility against women was fierce.  Guthrie wasn’t even initially allowed in the pit lane of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because it was a male-only zone.  But there were people out there willing to give her a chance, who knew that she was a capable driver and tried their best to subvert the gendered norms of racing.  And in doing so, by breaking every masculine rule of motorsport, a path suddenly cleared.  It was no longer so strange to see a woman behind a wheel, to see her being competitive, to see her even outshining the men.

 

Since Guthrie’s first attempt at the Indy 500 in 1976, there have been ten women to compete in the race; since her entry into NASCAR, there have been an incredible number of women to compete in every aspect of the sport.

 

In drag racing, women have been a prevalent, dominant force since Shirley Muldowney burst into the scene.  The first woman to receive a racing license from the NHRA, the first woman to win eighteen NHRA national events, and the first person in drag racing to win two – then three – championships.  In 2017 alone, there were nine women competing across four NHRA drag racing championships: more women than in F1, IndyCar, and NASCAR combined.

 

Women and other minorities have been systematically barred entry to F1 for close to five decades – those that have participated have been given the bare minimum.  There was no historical precedent – but why could some motorsport categories see a breakthrough of women while F1 didn’t?

 

The big answer here, as pointed out by @NotNamedErik on Twitter, is money, and how that played into the culture of motorsport.

 

There was a period of time in the history of every motorsport where the point of racing was the cars, and making them go fast.  There was no glamour, no destination races.  If the car looked ugly but it went fast, perfect.  If you wanted to race but could only make it to a local track, then you raced.  This kept the sport affordable for the average person, and you could be competitive if you were willing to spend a little more than your competitors.  Janet Guthrie, for example, raced in the SCCA and was successful in a car that she bought and cared for with her own money.  It was entirely possible to do that.  And, beyond that, black American women raced in the 1940s.  Many women contested Le Mans throughout the 1930s.  

 

American motorsport retained that grassroots mindset for longer than many European motorsports, long enough for the low-cost do-it-yourself-because-you-have-money-and-no-one-can-tell-you-no racing to meet up with shifting social conventions.  Women contested NASCAR races for years before Guthrie came onto the scene, but it’s no coincidence that her appearance during the midst of the feminist movements of the 1970s played a part in how women were perceived in NASCAR in the future.  Drag racing is still very much about the cars and the racing, and women are more successful there than anywhere else.

 

Formula One has been a high-cost sport for decades.  While it was still possible to build championship winning cars in a woodshed throughout the 1970s, it was one of the few forms of truly international and intercontinental racing, which raised a whole different set of barriers when F1 solidified into an official championship in 1950; you might be able to build a car, but could you afford to fly it out to South Africa?  Prior to that, in the years of Grand Prix racing, women like Hellé Nice, Elizabeth Junek, and Kay Petre could fund cars and compete on equal grounds to men.  Since their time, the two most successful female F1 drivers were Maria Teresa de Filippis in the late 1950s, and Lella Lombardi in the mid-70s.

 

The cost barrier has gone hand-in-hand with the social boundaries.  Rich white men who can afford success in a horribly expensive sport are the only ones who can make it into the modern climate of F1, where the emphasis is on glitz and glamour and very, very expensive cars, so that we often even see talented men passed over in favor of those who have more money.  Women, POC, and LGBTQ athletes have a much harder time breaking into that atmosphere, no matter their talent, because these groups have historically endured economic oppression that has not enabled them to set a precedent in Formula One.

 

The answer to the question of equality, then, is not to ignore historical precedent set by other forms of motorsport, or to pretend as though a segregated series will solve these problems.

 

The Solution

 

The answer is, instead, to support women from the ground-up, and to restructure the masculine culture of Formula One.

 

Here, I believe that a blend of something similar to the Mazda Road to Indy feeder program and MotoGP Talent Cups.

 

Ryan King alerted me to the existence of the Talent Cups on Twitter.  In this system, riders from underrepresented countries are given a chance to prove themselves.  With age restrictions implemented from 12-20 and all costs of competing covered, all these riders need to worry about is proving their worth.  The top five drivers from each regional Talent Cup are guaranteed a spot in the Moto3 Junior World Championship with the hope of progressing to Moto3 and then up through the ranks to MotoGP.  He argues that the existence of a similar concept but for young women looking to break into European single-seater categories would be a reasonable and very successful competition.  We would still have a woman-only championship, but at a lower rung of the ladder to F1, with F1 still being the ultimate goal for both young men and women with the intention that F1 will become more diverse.  And I think he’s right… to a certain extent.

 

I 100% agree that the existence of a Talent Cup-style competition would be a great way to specifically showcase female talent and to give them no-holds-barred access to opportunities in the F1 ladder.  But I also do not think that the climate of F1 would enable these young women to find much success past that point.  Which is where I feel the Mazda Road to Indy format could add a guarantee of success.

 

In the Mazda Road to Indy, drivers who win a championship at a lower level of the ladder to IndyCar are guaranteed a drive in the next level up.  If they win IndyLights – the F2 equivalent of IndyCar – they’re guaranteed to drive in the Indy 500 as well as a certain number of regular season races.  In this way, they have a chance to make it to the highest level of the sport, to go out and show their talent in a professional field, and are guaranteed, at minimum, a chance to make themselves appealing as a full-time driver if they don’t get signed after their last season in IndyLights.

 

I believe that a scholarship program similar to this would not only be beneficial to women, but also essential.  By giving them a chance to break into the ladder to F1 through a Talent Cup, women drivers will be given more exposure.  But they still need a guarantee that they’ll be able to move up the ladder and not just dropped once their guaranteed season on, say, an F3 team ends.  It would require a restructuring of the way F1 currently conducts itself, but would be well worth the fielding of a few extra cars a few times a year.  If F1 is willing to construct a whole new series just to run six all-female races a year, they should be able to find a way to provide a woman with an extra car a few times a year.

 

And, finally – we need to stop making F1 so masculine that it becomes inaccessible to women.  It is very difficult for women to be taken seriously in a field where they are predominantly viewed as sex objects or decorations.  We do not need grid girls or photos of breasts.  We don’t need podium girls or shots of the pretty ladies in the garage.  We need to join the rest of the world in the twenty-first century and stop treating women like dolls for men to gain enjoyment from

 

And most of all, we sure as hell don’t need a separate-but-unequal F1 series just for women.

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100 Words: #38-40

38. Rainbow

The rainbow hues of the world drain to black and white when you leave.  It feels wrong, strange.  This is not your space and yet when you leave, the holes in your wake are gaping, as if you’d been there since the beginning.

It’s quiet, uncomfortably and strangely and achingly quiet.  You aren’t there to shift the blankets in bed next to me, to run the shower while I’m in another room, to type away at a laptop while I lay on the couch pretending to read and just listening instead.  

My apartment is small, capable of fitting two but filled with enough to make it suitable for maybe one and a half at most.  Three years to come to terms with the silence of an independent space.  But having you slot into the spaces felt right; never claustrophobic, never overtaxed, just right.  In the span of just a few days, you became as permanent a fixture as the hum of the dehumidifier, or the washing machine that beats out strange rhythms when it gets a little too full.

You fit in so well that it’s easy to forget that you are not designed for this this space, that it is Mine, that you are a Guest, that you have a home and that this is not it.

I had never known what it was like to miss someone, body and soul, with every single atom of my being until I got to hold you here and then had to give you back.  Until I wanted to clean out half of my dresser to make room for you.  Until I wanted one of the empty spaces in the toothbrush holder to be filled by yours.

I had never known what it was like to fall so hard that someone could take colors with them.
39. Self

They say you can’t love someone until you love yourself first, but I’ve found that’s not true.  You can love someone deeply and fiercely, love them with every ounce of your soul and heart, love them with an intensity you’ve never felt toward anything in your life.  You can love them love them love them until the world stops turning and the stars stop shining and the sun dies away, until the universe is dark and cold and warmed with nothing but that love.

They say you can’t love someone until you love yourself, but that’s not true.  You just can’t let them love you back.

40. Humid

It’s hot in Texas.

More accurately, this particular bar in Austin, Texas is hot.  Stifling.  It’s all open air, and sticky humidity is stagnating in the windowpanes, the gentle occasional breeze unable to carve a path through too many bodies packed tightly together in not enough space.  You can feel a bead of sweat trailing down the nape of your neck, and you take a long draught of the cold beer condensating in front of you hoping that it’ll do something.  It doesn’t.

You’re buzzed – not drunk, definitely not drunk enough to mistake your decision for a good idea – but it doesn’t stop you from pushing back your chair abruptly and leaving the bar, dialing an all-too-familiar number and dropping a handful of crumpled bills from your purse next to your half-finished drink as you do.  You’re not drunk, it’s a bad idea, and consciously you know that calling Him from a bar when He hasn’t called you back in weeks is A Bad Choice That You Should Reconsider, but the phone is ringing, it’s ringing, it rings twice, three times, and then, “Hello?”

You had thought that you wouldn’t be affected by the simplest syllables only half-heard through the noise of the bar and the tinniness of of an only-partially-functioning cell phone speaker, but a shiver runs down your spine anyway.  You respond, “Hey.”

“…Do you need something?” And it’s confused.  As confused as you are, honestly.

“So you got a new job?”  You blurt it out without and pretense of small talk, the tip of a knife carving straight to the point.  Get the whole damn thing over with, you tell yourself, as if you weren’t the one who picked up the phone.

“Yeah, I mean.  It’s been good.  Desk job.  We don’t really get that much hands-on stuff anymore, but it’s good.  It’s really good.”  He sounds genuine.  Happy.  He sounds like all the things you could never make him.

You squeeze your eyes shut and lean back against the wall.  Despite the miles of distance separating you, despite the lo-fi quality of a degenerating cell phone, you hear music in the background.

“Are you out?”

“What?”

“Are you out?  Like, are you at a club?”

“Why?” He laughs.  You can imagine him shifting awkwardly at the question, a smile on his face, a glint of confused defiance hiding in chocolate brown eyes.  “You’re out, too.”

And you can’t say anything, because it’s true.  You don’t know why it bothers you so much to know that He’s out in a club; you’re both independent now, both adults who can do whatever you like.  And without anyone weighing Him down, it’s not like He’s going to spend Saturday night in bed.

“Are you out with anyone?”

“Why?” He asks again.  Trying to laugh like he did before.  But you know that underlying note in it.  A ‘what fucking right do you think you have to ask me that’ tone just a scratch beneath the surface.

“Dunno.  Just.  Wondering.”

It’s dark.  Humid.  Two girls clutching one another teeter by you on a pair of heels too tall and too thin to be anything but a safety hazard, and you’re distracted for a moment by the faint smell of alcohol, by a flood of messy Spanish spilling from red-tinged hips.  You wish you knew how to have fun like them.  Instead, you’re very aware of the silence on the line.  Aware of your sundress clinging to your back.  You sink to the ground.

“Babe, are you okay?”

He stopped calling you that months before he stopped looking at you.

“Babe?”

“You’re not out with… with her?”

“…What are you talking about?”

The Spanish girls are waiting for a ride.  You spoke too quickly, not thinking, too busy watching them, too busy listening to the way the words are flowing between them unhindered, too busy wishing your own words flowed like that instead of tumbling out of your gut like mismatched building blocks.  There’s a dam in your throat now, thankfully, and the Spanish girls are cheering for their savior the cab driver, and He’s on the phone demanding, “Answer me.”

“I just- I saw pictures of you two online and-“

“What the fuck?”

“And you just – you never did that before.  With me.  Never took pictures with me like that.”

“You – I  – what – I never could.”  His voice has dropped, so low that you can barely hear him over the sound of music in the background.  “You never let me.”

“Yeah, but.  You could have… you could have…”  You don’t know what He could have done.  You don’t know why you’re so accusing.  You just can’t stop thinking about that picture, about Him, about Him and her, about how it’s not Him and you, about anything and everything and –

“Are you… are you jealous?”  Disbelief.

You don’t answer.  The Spanish girls are making negotiations.  You pick the sweat-damp dress away from your skin like it’ll bring you relief, and it does nothing.

“Babe?”

You’re mesmerized by the spinning in your head, by the way the neon lights are painting the sidewalk in myriad colors.

“Babe, you‘re the one who left.”

You swallow.  Your stomach is churning, but not with anticipation, not with excitement.  Mouth dry.  Fingers that won’t stop picking at the hem of the dress.  You want to vomit.  You lick your lips and it takes you two tries to say, “I didn’t-“

“I’m gonna say this one last time, okay?  For good this time.”

You squeeze your eyes shut.

“Goodbye.”

You stop breathing.

Second later: nothing.  Just a dead connection.  A spinning head.  A sick feeling of immeasurable guilt that you wish you could drag out of the pit of your stomach with angry claws.  A dress falling limp and shapeless against a trembling body.  Even the Spanish girls have long since climbed into the cab and are nothing but a pair of taillights fading in the distance.

You don’t move for a long, long time.

It’s too damn hot in Texas.

100 Words: #32-37

32.  Block

There are words stuck in my throat.  My mind spins novels and tales and questions into a tangled mess lodged somewhere in my esophagus.   I can’t swallow, can’t breathe, can’t wheeze out enough of a plea for help for anyone to hear.

I have options.

The skin trapping them is paper-thin and untouched.  It would be easy to sharpen my nails and dig them into the bulging, restrictive flesh to let the contents of my throat spill out alongside the gore.

Harsh?  Cradle the porcelain bowl of a toilet and stick two of those fingers down the aforementioned throat instead.  A familiar sight, it would be all too easy to wash ugly words away like the waste they are.

A high building, just a tiny dot marring the late night city skyline.  A step forward.  Body meets concrete.  If I rattle my bones apart enough, maybe they’ll free a sentence or two.

Or I could write.

But that seems too easy.

 

33. Inhale

It’s just past three-thirty in the morning and I can’t – no, won’t – sleep.  Won’t sleep.  I won’t sleep.

In an hour when dreams are supposed to be sketching the deepest parts of my subconscious on the back of my eyelids, I’m drawing slow breaths – slow, deep, as silent as possible.  Slow, because I’m lying next to you.  Slow, because I’m still trying to relax my board-stiff body into an unfamiliar mattress.  Slow, because I’m desperately afraid to disturb the deep sleep in-out of your lungs next to me.  Slow, because I don’t want to spoil this moment with myself.

This night has been far from perfect, pointedly unromantic, and I’m sick to my stomach with the knowledge that it’ll be the last one.  Sick and sad and desperate, like all silly little girls with silly little crushes and silly little debilitating self-esteem issues are said to be in times like this.  I’ve imagined it many times – never romanticized, never sentimentalized – except always always always with moon eyes and hearts choking my throat and dreams spilling out from my clasped hands.

You move in your sleep, slightly.  Adjusting a pillow, taking a deep breath that sounds like contentment personified.  And I want to cry, somehow.

When you have less than twenty-four hours, how do you not waste it?  

And so I stay awake.  And I listen to the rhythm of your inhale like the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.  And I bask in the surreality of the turns my life has taken to land me here.  And I pretend that I am okay with my transience and my disposability and my user-friendly manual.  And I listen to you breathe.

 
35.  Unfinished

I am incomplete.  Fragments of a human strung together with mental maladies and fleeting fantasies.  I can feel ice cold breezes rattle through the bones of my ribcage on winter mornings.  I watch people pass through me like a ghost.

I seek my meaning and definition in others, making patchwork quilts of personalities to drape over myself and hide the gore and marrow of my bones.  Not a human being, but an idea and a concept, cursory and partial.  A skeleton strung up before a classroom, an instruction in the things we want to pretend we don’t conceal within us.

I am not real.  

 

36. Adore

Love.  Noun.  A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.  A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection.  Sexual passion or desire.  Love.  Verb.  To need or require; benefit greatly from.  In love.  Idiom.  Infused with or feeling deep affection or passion.

Hopeless romantic, I fall in love indiscriminately and with ardor.  Love disingenuous, love passionate, love enthusiastic, love pretension.  I have always known my particular brand of love as thoroughly as the skin stretched uncomfortably over my bones.  As consequentially inconsequential as the word has become.

I have never known love pure, love authentic.  Given love is disgust, love is being despised.  Given love is cold and love will always hurt you because love is inextricably labyrinthed with hate.  Love is for me to offer, not for me to receive.  I want to love because I do not want to be loved.

I am not sure how to define what I feel now.  It is not ephemeral, it is not unresponsive.  Distant in distance only.  Not a weapon, not quite a cure, but something that spans far beyond the militaristic frame I give my language of love.  It is a need to consume and be consumed, to dig my fingers deep in the fabric of your soul and memorize its patterns and its texture and its scent and its taste; it is wanting you to do the same.  It is a dialect of possession and ownership and jealousy, and a vernacular of unity and selflessness and I-can-do-better.  Not beautiful, not ugly, not pure, not dirty, not anything in between.  It is yearning to mortar my fractures and empty spaces with you, a craving to blur lines between one and the other until two are indistinct.  It is a smile through heartache and not-my-homesickness and anger.  Well-defined and incomprehensible, I want to write odes every time you make me feel something I never knew possible, and I choke on any of the words I could try to find.

I know love, multitudinous and various and unfathomable, so I do not know love.  But I know you, and somehow I think that is enough.

 

37.  Sphere

When you inhabit two distinct planes of existence, how do you decide who compromises theirs to join the other?

Itsy Bitsy Skinny Minnie

I developed an eating disorder on purpose.

 

It sounds counterintuitive.  It’s like the DARE program telling roomfuls of terrified preteens that “nobody wants to be a heroin addict when they grow up” as they flip through a slideshow of skeletal mugshots and emergency room abscesses.  Nobody asks to have an eating disorder.

 

Except sometimes, you do.

 

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100 Words: #26-31

26. City
A pier. New York City at night. New Jersey waiting on the other side of the river. Lights over the city dance like incandescent fireflies, halogen fairy lights, fluorescent candles – light pollution hanging like a haze of possibility. We’ve been awake for twenty-one hours, walked as many miles, lost ourselves in corporate consumerism and dead midnight streets. There is exhaustion, first and foremost, a filter that every other sensation must battle through to be felt. I hold your hand, tangle my fingers with yours, let my body fall heavy against you, drape my legs over your own. The city makes my eyes heavy with dreams, the cool wind curls me into your sphere like a tendril of wayward wispy smoke.

I want to sleep, but now is not the time. Not here – not in the city, not on the pier, not next to you, not when the seconds tick closer to my leaving with every breath that I wish I could so desperately hold because maybe if I hold the breath in my lungs I can hold the clocks at bay and hold you in my arms for just a little longer.

 

27. Endings
When my pining stories became love stories – when heartbreaks wrote themselves into heartmends – when I sought out the happy ending instead of the this-is-the-fate-we-have-to-accept ending – that’s when I knew I’d fallen for you.

 

28. Sprawl
Legs tangled up in yours, I never liked sleeping next to anyone until your body was sprawled next to mine. Too close, a breach of personal space, I should have pushed you away and I didn’t.

Legs tangled up in yours, fingertips finding meaning in the faint lines and creases of your skin, draped over you tied up in me, I waited to hate the way I could feel your breath tickling the hairs on the back of my neck. I waited and changed decorative finger paintings to movements with meaning, to quicken your breath, to wait for the moment I could no longer stand it, and I didn’t.

Legs tangled up in yours, skin sticky with the day and the hours and the city and the rain, skin sticky because of the way your skin moved against mine – legs tangled, I closed my eyes and fell asleep to the rhythm of your heartbeat, hoping to claw my way just a little bit closer.

 

29. Venemous
Bitter poison pills swallowed down one by one – words choked back, actions buried deep in the gut, acid memories eroding stomach lining. Bitter poison pills I can’t spit out, can’t retch from my body even with violent force. Bitter poison festering in veins, trapped, bitter poison warping minds, twisting gnarled fingers that pervert and defile everything they touch.

 

30. Tell
“You can’t tell anyone about us,” he said.

“What do you think I bought you all those fucking drinks for?” he said.

“I’m bigger than you. Try to push me away,” he said.

“We’re just friends. That’s it,” he said.

“It’ll make me look bad if they find out,” he said.

“I’m trying, but I can’t,” he said.

“I’ll come over again if you want me to but I need you to do something for me first,” he said.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” he said.

“You looked better last summer,” he said.

“That was just one night, it didn’t mean anything,” he said.

“That’s your fault,” he said.

“You weren’t the only one,” he said.

“Whatever,” he said.

 

31. Pour
The words drip from your lips drenched in tetrahydrocannabinol, palliatives, and dopamine. You’ve waited for the moment, planned for it, imagined it, tested out the weight and heft of these words in various settings, with different inflections, with every possible reaction – and then they slip from your lips with the ease that sinks ships and you can’t bite your tongue fast enough because it’s not the right time or place, because you’re drunk and high and half out of breath buried in a dark night wrapped in humidity, but it’s too late.

Your heart misses a few of its quick, steady thumps in the silence that follows and somehow you’re still sure of your choice – because of course it would happen like this, of course it wouldn’t be the beautiful planned moment turned robotic from all the times you ran it through in your mind, of course it wouldn’t be the perfect fairytale hopeless romantic unrealism you’ve dreamt up, of course it would happen here, of course it would be this simple, of course it would be messy and rough-around-the-edges and imperfect and spontaneous – because that’s who you are. Your heart misses a few more because of how positive you are that you’ve made the right choice.

And they ask, “Really?”

And you breathe, “Yeah.”

And you wait. And in the space of the seconds where you wait, you begin to dream up grandiloquent responses and declarations and echoes of your words, where they seal the letters with hot-wax kisses pressed onto your enveloping thighs, where star paths cross and everything falls into place and you fit that last piece into the puzzle and it’s like all the books told you because maybe it can be a mess and maybe it can still be a fairytale hopeless romantic ending and maybe it can be the story you’ve always wanted to write and maybe it can be modern day American realism.

And you wait.

And wait.

And you hesitate.  And you stop breathing.  And you wait.

And.

And and and.

And

nothing.

And the heart you’ve torn, bleeding, bruised, broken from your chest – the heart that’s tumbled awkwardly from a thick tongue – the heart you sewed to your sleeve to bare to the world – that heart withers, ashamed and defeated and distrustful. And that heart pries open your clenched teeth to slip past your tongue and bury itself in your throat and dig its claws into the tender flesh there. And that heart chokes you every time you open your mouth so that it will never be made to feel so foolish again.

100 Words: #23-26

23. Intoxication
you need to pump poison into your veins before you find her attractive enough to fuck. head swimming, thoughts a chaotic disjointed nonsensical mess, when pleasure eclipses person – it’s the only way you’re able to find ecstasy in her imperfections

she – she, who remembers all, who burns moments into memory like the smoldering scars of funeral pyres – she traces patterns onto her body with pilgrim fingers trying to find a tripwire that will tell her how your hands felt on her. she doesn’t remember your lips on hers, only remembers the kiss of the bottles she tipped back to pretend she didn’t notice the disgust in your eyes

 

24. Unique
special skills:
– finding, defining, embracing the exceptions to ‘forever’

 

25. Butterfly
With the changing of the season, the butterflies flickered away one by one on wings of jewels and dreams in search of warmer climates. I tried, desperately, to keep them from leaving, but they slipped through my fingers like I was trying to catch smoke tendrils in a net. I knew it was the last I’d see of them; the barren tundra of my stomach would be far too cold for them to call a home again.

 

26. Record
Record the sounds of a life. Record the gentle swish of a brush through hair, record its muted click on a porcelain countertop from another room. Record soft midnight breaths cascading over sweat-sticky exposed skin and the prickling goosebumps that flower under your touch. Get very close, record a heartbeat at its softest, when it’s no more than a whisper. Now, stand back – record the sound of buttons loosened from their restraints, being done up again; the scratch of a fingernail on a pair of shorts. Record windchimes of silverware making music on porcelain dishes at dinner, record dilated eyes and gentle hums of contentment and the sound of a hand pressed against your own. Record the gentle puff of air the follows parted lips, record the intimation of a thought never destined to come to fruition. Record.

One day he will be gone. You will miss him in silence. The things you thought so trivial, once lost, echo into the cavern of his absence louder than noises themselves.

Record the sounds of a life. Play the soundtrack when you miss him. Remember.

100 Words: #20-22

20. Beat
I flatten my palm on the center of your chest, five fingers splayed wide like roots in a fertile garden. Your heart beats a steady rhythm of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard against my palm. I spread my fingers a little wider. Maybe, if I try hard enough, your heartbeat will fill the spaces between my fingers. Maybe, if I try, I’ll never have to let you go.

 

21. Stop
My life is a process of leaving. Perpetual transience. The unstoppable force without an immovable object, I’ve existed in past-tense terms as I left destination after destination in my wake. It doesn’t hurt to leave when leaving is all you know how to do. You’re just a force without an object to give you a reason to stay for a while.

I never thought I’d find anything to make me want to stop leaving things in the past and start living in the present. I’d been committed to my suitcase being my permanent residence, to friendships being as fleeting as a tree flying by outside the window of a speeding car, to a life best lived in the process of moving.

And then I met you.

 

22. Insecure
I wear my insecurities like armor and wield them like weapons. It’s easier to use them to keep the world away than confront the hard truths about myself that I’d rather choke on than swallow.