Boy Girl Attraction

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I am not old enough to cross the street by myself yet. My brother walks me to the community center along with three other boys. We carry bags of candy on this holiday when anyone can dress up like a girl and no one will think twice about the decision. No one will wonder if that person prefers girls or boys. Instead, everyone will just take a good look and laugh at the drag queen. Except me.

The boy in front of me looks like a real girl. Long greasy black locks of hair sweep past my face as he turns his head around. He talks to another boy. My brother arrives at a gate and opens it up for the rest of us. A crowd of teenagers surround the pool deck but I keep my eyes on the greasy black mop in front of me. I like the way they look. I like the way they seem so different from everyone else in their halloween costumes. I, myself, am dressed in nothing more than a black t-shirt and jeans.

Perhaps, we have something in common. I think as the other boys lay across an empty pair of lounge chairs. I take a seat next to the boy-that-looks-like-a-girl. His face glows white from all the makeup. Except, their lips that look as dark as the night air that surrounds us. My heart beats heavily against my chest.

I never knew what the word “attraction” meant up until this moment. Whenever my parents tease me about a “girlfriend” they entertain the idea of a girl falling in love with me. Or at least liking me. Whenever anyone else teases me about this they entertain the idea that girls like me at all. However, the girls in my class treat me like another girlfriend. During recess they permit me to talk about the boys on the playground. They allow me to give them advice about which boy would best suit them for a elementary school relationship; a kind of romance that two members of the opposite sex engage themselves in during  class projects, lunch table seating arrangements, and games at recess.

For example, when Travis and Samantha got together they chose each other for everything. During gym class he picked her first for his volleyball team before choosing me, his best friend. I wanted to hit him with a ball but he chose me next.

For example, Andres and Jennifer preferred to sit together at lunch. But the rules of the school were that only an even number of boys and girls could sit at the table. So if one of them came in late then another boy or girl would trade seats so that the two could sit together. I wanted to remain in my seat sometimes but removed myself out of civil manners.

For example, boys chased girls on the playground but I never wanted to chase girls so I found a hole to dig. I kept digging until the bell rang. I would much rather involve myself with dirt than hormones. Except for this Halloween, when I found myself asking this strange boy-that-looked-like-a-girl questions.

“Do you like to read?” I say to him. He turns his beautiful white face in my direction. He answers. I ask another question. He answers again. This exchange of words goes on and on until they leave. I cannot believe how lucky I am to feel normal for once. That I finally entered the game of sexuality.

“You know that’s a boy, right?” my brother asks. He is sitting with the other boys, laughing. I bite my lip. My hope is lost. My revelation is snuffed out with these words. I am still just alone.

“Yeah,” I say but my voice feels deflated. I no longer feel the longing to talk to the boy/girl or anyone else. I would much rather go dig a hole somewhere. I would much rather burry my loneliness than to sit around here looking foolish. Because everyone else saw it except for me.

Happy Halloween.

 

Safe Spaces and Dangerous Places

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At sixteen, I coward into over-sized sweatshirts during class so that no one could bother me. The soft cotton felt like a womb that isolated me from the rest of the world. A world in which two high schools took my attendance because one of them already knew my secret. In one of them I came out to a group of boys.

“Hey, kid. Are you gay?” one of them asked from the back of the room. Him and his friends all sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for my answer.

“Yes.” I said. The one kid laughed and turned around. My lips felt numb. I just told a total stranger my sexual preference and now that whole class knew. My stomach rumbled with nervous energy. A kind of energy that vibrated throughout my body for the next couple of months, as I skipped school and stayed in bed, shivering.

I needed to get away from everyone. My parents considered sending me to Harvey Milk High, a school in New York meant for LGBTQ teens. They considered this because back then any other institution seemed a threat to my mental health.

Day and night I imagined kids beating me up in the corner of a classroom. Any classroom that provided a safe space for their hatred. The locker room where no adult ever checked on students. The side of a trailer that the school never used after Hurricane Katrina blasted through the campus. The tennis court, band room,  or even the courtyard where one student got beaten up during lunch period. No on interfered until the hitter got in enough punches to give the victim several bruises to heal over the course of a few months.

I feared this even though I laid in bed a couple of miles away. So I never went back. Another school opened its doors to me. One with a whole body of students that never asked about my sexuality. A place where no one could suspect anything other because of my “shy” personality. I would just sit quietly until the last bell rang.

At sixteen this option might feel the most logical as fear installs itself into every body movement. It plans out everything from getting to school to eating lunch to someday starting a Gay Straight Alliance Club. A club where straight people could hug a gay person without any reprimanded by their friends. Friends that write “lesbian” on a teachers walls because she hosted the first club meeting. Friends that start rumors about two guys initiating intercourse on the stairwell between classes because they became the first gay couple at school.

I ran the club until my senior year and by then I made enough friends to no longer need a place to feel safe with people. I could wear a rainbow belt on campus without thinking about the violent repercussions it could potentially stir. Boys no longer seemed like a threat because a ton of them talked to me in class. We talked about poetry, guitars, and television shows. I made friends.

 

 

Take A Pike

In the early 2000’s a yellow-paged book came into my possession. “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike slipped itself over the backseat of a traveling bus. I retrieved the soft cover novel and started reading about a five-thousand year old vampire, called Sita. In a matter of days the story came to an end. I passed the book back over the seat and waited for the next one to come through. 51WS2P2XR2L

Jackie, my dealer, supplied the novels to several people in class. A small group that used the books as inspiration for their own novels. We traded composition books full of vampires that lived in Egypt during a time before pharaohs, similar to Sita’s background. She lived in India where an evil spirit inhabited her dead friend and started the vampire lineage.

My version mirrored this heritage as the protagonist summons a spirit to revive her dead friend. This started the lineage of vampires to encroach the human world but without the promise of eternal life. A vampire would live the expected lifespan of a human but with superhuman powers, like telekinesis. I gave these stories to friends that gave them back with confused looks.

“If they don’t live forever then how are they still alive?” they asked, flipping to the front page of  my story. I saw that it began in modern day times with the same character that lived a thousand years ago. Somehow this plot-hole never occurred to me. I needed to revise the story.

I changed my vampires to infinite creatures of the night in exchange for their telekinesis. This allowed my protagonist to flourish with also a goal in mind. She needed to keep her life eternal while recovering her superpowers. I found something new and interesting about the story that kept me writing and reading stories.

Christopher Pike continued to inspire me as his characters often dealt with deadly matters. In the “Chain Letter” series, a group of friends submitted themselves to a mysterious contract that forced them to commit embarrassing acts in exchange for the send’s silence. This deal stretched over the length of three novels. I finished the last one in my dad’s car while on the way to high school.51YXS2N1PSL

At this point all my friends found different clicks of people to engage with. I ventured into the art department where I found the terror of commitment. Turning in a disfigured still-life embarrassed me more than an incomplete one. I turned in sketches of men with only half a face or two-legged elephants. Although earning a passing-grade they left me feeling ashamed of my inability to complete things, similar to Pike’s characters.

The unknown meant the unwillingness to find out the mysteries ahead. I needed to charge ahead through the gray between contoured lines and blank paper. I needed to stop fear with perseverance. This allotted my imagination to find a balance between the real and the unreal as projects completed themselves. Because the thing about art is that it only exists as it is made.

I still struggle with the ability to sometimes follow a professor’s instructions to finish a story. Sometimes my projects amount to nothing except fine detail and little character growth. These things matter little and a lot. Art needs time to grow , and I’m willing to make more deals with myself and others, in order to see that happen. After all, writers need readers as much as I want the next vampire installment from Christopher Pike.

 

Orlando Strong

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Dear Readers,

Something terrible happened in my town. 49 people died while 50 others were injured. I found this out one morning when my friend called. She wanted to know that I was safe. I was safe but not from the effect of the tragedy.

If you’ve read my blog then you know that some of the posts were about Pulse. Holiday happened around this time of the year. It’s hard to imagine that my story took place in the same place that this one did.

I think that’s how a lot of people in this community are affected by this event. We all went to Pulse at some time or another. We all danced there. We all made friends there. We know the layout of the club and that’s what haunts us at night. We imagine the sounds and things that happened that night and wonder if that could have been us. For some of us it might have been, if our mother’s hadn’t asked us to babysit or if we felt too tired to go out after working a twenty-hour shift.

Thinking about this affects us each day. And each day it’s hard to believe that Orlando now has this strange history behind it. I came to Orlando to go to college. My friend came to Orlando because he fell in love. Someone else came to Orlando because they wanted to escape the boredom of living in a small town. We all found ourselves here and now we are finding ourselves again.

Grief is something that happens differently to everyone. Some people are attending the vigils. My friend is handing out food to people at the hospital. I am trying to do everything but there’s only so much you can do in a day. I want to feel this pain so that I can grieve with my community. The hurt must be felt so that we can move on eventually. But right now is not the time to move on. We must remember, cry, and live with each other. Here is Orlando and this is what Orlando Strong means to me.

The Aftertaste of a Dream

 

Four years ago I got rejected from art school in New York City. The experience left me stranded in the middle of Florida with two best friends. We gathered our strength together in order to help one another. A flock of hands lifted one us out of a broken heart and into the art studio, where they learned to give into their emotions with by studying them. A flock of hands pulled one of us away from a small town, where everyone believed that a medical degree led to happiness, and into the vibrant city of Orlando. Each of them found a way to believe in themselves again while I wondered where to start.img-thing.jpeg

I switched majors, from art to writing, but still felt aimless. New York City no longer appealed to me since Orlando became my home. Its craft coffee shops, literary clubs, and hipster bars resonated with my need for culture. I no longer felt the craving to taste other cities, but I still craved a dream.

One of my friends went on to graduate and moved to a different state. The other one got married and continues to study art at the same university that I attend. We still help one another get through the hard times. Although, not all hard times call for the attendance of friends. For example, I felt the bitter taste of rejection the other night and thought of New York City. After several seconds it dissolved into something sweet. My teeth grinded against one another in anticipation for the next sample of rejection. I needed to taste something like it again. Maybe I’ll go to grad school. Maybe I’ll intern at a radio station. Either way I need a dream again.

Crossing Paths

I saw Phillip walking towards me from across the courtyard. He wore a grey shirt with matching slacks that made me envious. The clean-cut style never suited my scrappy nature. Frayed jean shorts and midriff shirts mesh well with the hipster places I like to visit off campus.

“I like your outfit,” I said to him. He thanked me before inquiring about my day. I told him about the hours spent prepping for a presentation. He told me about a job interview that would take place the following day. We continued this banter until the subject of love popped up.

“I met someone,” He said. cc9e8c9cc85ef28eb6d06bd717a43e2as

“On Grindr,” I said and nodded.

“No, in real life. Not everyone meets on Grindr,” He said and laughed. I felt a hard lump in my throat. Of course people met in real life because only shut-ins, like myself, rely on technology for romance. This might sound sarcastic but I assure you that my love life depended on both OkCupid and Grindr in the past.

In fact, my first boyfriend and I met in a chatroom. We exchanged flirty texts before exchanging emails. The fifty-miles between us seemed the length of a shoelace with modern technology. I spoke to him every day until the breakup happened. Then I switched to Facebook and found someone new to write to.

Fast forward to present day and I still rely on text-message-introductions with men. Meanwhile, Phillip told me about meeting this guy in a club via eye contact. The idea of two people meeting because of an energy exchange confused me.

“He saw me and we started talking,” Phillip said. The simplicity of this sentence made me feel envious. I swallowed the lump and curled my fists. We soon parted but I carried the feeling with me to work later that same day.

I served couples their food with a firm hand. Glass plates clacked against the tape tops. Silverware pelted against the wall above the dishwasher. The shift ended with me slamming chairs on top of one another outside the restaurant.

“Excuse me, is this place any good?” a square faced man said to me. He stood a foot away with another man behind him. I nodded and continued stacking.

“Do you think my friend’s cute?” He said. The other man laughed and walked closer. His bubble butt and thick arms interested me.

“Come on, he’s not gay.” the friend said. I rolled my eyes. This comment might flatter some macho-homosexuals but I’m fully aware of my flamboyancy. My graceful walk and soft voice come at the expense of being “outed” everywhere I go.

“Yes, I’m gay.” I said and stacked another chair on top. flirting.jpg

“Would you go on a date with my friend? He’s a great guy but he always goes out with assholes.” the square faced man said. I smiled and told them to come back next week.

“Is something wrong?” the friend said. I wanted to tell them that they both seemed drunk.  They kept touching my face and elbow. Only drunk or insecure men think I’m incredibly sexy. Of the which I prefer the insecure because then at least they’re being sincere.

“Oh my BMW just pulled up,” the square faced man said and climbed inside with his friend. They rolled down the window and asked me my name. I told them. They told me theirs.

The night ended like any other with me coming home alone. I logged onto Grindr looking for a conversation. Profile picture after profile picture zoomed by. No one said hello. If maybe I could learn how to play the game outside of this app then I would find someone. Someone a little drunk. Someone a little too touchy. Someone a little bit more than no one.

My Voice

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Essay and Photo by BoyKitsch

I’m trying to find my voice in the bright green trees of Florida. It loves to swing off  one branch and onto another during the day. The woods sigh with delight because no one ever pays attention to them. At least not the neighborhood people.

They sit beside television sets inside of their apartments. I look up into open windows and find blue faces. A cold sensation spirals up my spine. The image reminds me of the curly-haired-boy who once watched Netflix for four hours in my apartment. He felt happy.

A blue light disappears from one of the windows, so I turn back to the trees. My voice rustles the leaves as it climbs higher. The ascension seems easy but that’s because I’m standing outside of the action. I know that when my voice returns it will tell me all about the trouble it got into.

It will tell me about the thug squirrels that hid inside a tree hole. They threatened to kill it if my voice wouldn’t give them a song. My voice shivered beneath sharp claws before  spitting out a rhyme that lifted up greedy paws and escaping to the branches below.

“Sometimes danger happens but that’s how we learn about the world around us,” I will tell it. It’ll stomp and pout around the trees because I never taught my voice patience. When it stops I’ll say, “But most people would rather live through the danger than watch someone else live through it.” It won’t understand and go back into the trees while I listen to the distant laugh of an informercial somewhere above.

 

 

A Completed Story

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I started calling myself a writer this year. It happened after completing a short story. The two paragraphs explained how an alcoholic journalist could reconcile his addiction with art. Instead of drinking to forget about the past he painted it. This led him to a community where people use art to make political statements. In the end, he uses them to become mayor of a small town in Orlando.

This story made me feel good, like it healed a wound or cooled a burn inside. My fingers stopped twitching throughout the day. A story laid behind them now. They could carry on with their daily tasks while I thought up new ideas. A planet called California that harbored an evil stepmother. Mermaids that ate pizza. These things I looked forwards to the same way a runner looks forward to their next marathon. I am a writer.

Books and a Blog

“It’s a small move I’ve made to move past the first page”

In the beginning there was a collection of notebooks in my possession. Each had a single page filled out with multiple adventures. Monsters ran through sentences before jumping the hurdle into a story about a Florida romance. On the bottom was always the prophet’s signature, a coffee stain I left behind before watching my favorite television program.

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For years they stood like props around my bedroom. Invited guests sat among the books and talked about things I didn’t understand. Ambition, College, Fame, Creativity, were all words similar to the ones written on the first pages. There was a difference between the spoken and the printed though.

In conversation people talked about their achievements. There was a gallery down the street in which one of them had just ran an art exhibition. On the bottom of each piece was a familiar signature. It was the same one I saw on a story printed in a literary journal. My friends were achieving something while I sat in an altar.

I learned that the world runs by the success of having done something. So I began this blog because I wanted some proof of this law. My stories have been about travels, small ambitions like college, and at best some fiction. It’s a collection I’m proud of even though I do miss the smell of ink on paper. So every now and then I return the cove beneath my bed.

Hello Friend

We hadn’t spoken very much, recently. I kept missing your calls, although the time I picked up there was no one at the other end. It was like you vanished completely that not even your dog knew where you were. I had to feed him amounts of food that depleted my life’s savings. He’ll never be the same.

I wandered about your flat for several days. Every room had a photograph of us in it, the likes of which sent me miles back into memory. The first moment I remembered, which is to say the one that still plagues the heart, is of our last kiss. I held your bottom lip between a smile before saying, “I love you”. That’s where it ended.

I slept in your bed, turning with every nightmare of your absence. We would never have time together under the mistletoe. Every winter we’d walk into town and buy the most colorful ornament for our Christmas tree. It was a tradition that was carried from our childhoods’, although we made them instead. Your’s always had the most curious of shapes. Like a cloud it transformed from small to big to being a rectangle to being a horse. Mine were that much boring compared to yours.

I don’t know where you’ve gone to but I hope you’ll come back soon. In the meantime I’ve taken the liberty of keeping Lord Byron. He’ll never survive on his own.

Sincerely