I wanted to dance to mainstream hip-hop for New Year’s Eve. I wanted to kick up overgrown memories of the last year I spent in the town I grew up in. Pinch the most nostalgic places until the pus of old delusion emptied from my own skin. There, I went blonder. Smoked harder. Ate my laugh from a plastic container. While I looked into your eyes, my friends, my hands were busy stitching. I wove your depressions, darker, heavier now, into my own clothes, braided your oiliest illusions into my hair and then slept. One of you gave. It is you I love like a sister, a mother, a light.

Another one of you gave while your heart orbited your body. Not like a satellite, but like a stray. Your smile split your face when I looked at it, cooed, reached to pet. I left your home with a guilt-led narrative; I’m sorry my own heart blew smoke in your eyes. We’ve only ever been soft enough to listen to each other speak. I never meant to thicken our skin with my company. I would scream into the wind until it carried you safely home.

I gave too. Even though my memory swells with feedback on the streets and in the homes and anti-homes where you present yourselves. Virginia Woolf, you said it right. It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality. Harder still, in a place in time where that is all you ever were.

 

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