I walked you home, side by side. I still hadn’t touched you, not even a brush of fingers. My whole body seemed to vibrate with the intensity of being near you. I felt like we weren’t just two individuals walking along, but like some kind of energy connected us, that we were set apart from everyone and everything around us. I asked you where you grew up and went to school. You looked up at me and said, ‘Nowhere special.’ like that was enough of an answer. And you just stood there, looking up at me. Whilst my fingers played with the cold, sharp weight of my keys, wondering if now was the time to kiss you. Like comedy, timing is everything for the first kiss. I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted to impress you, to impress myself on you. A car crawled past us, its music blaring out. I let it pass. You cleared your throat and looked down at your feet. I stepped forwards, took my hands from my pockets and with my hands around your waist, pulled you towards me. You were perfect. You tipped up your face and waited as I bent to your lips.
Cover for WOUNDING, published by Bluemoose Books on the 24th April 2014.
Just recently I had to fill in a ‘biog’ for my publishers – you know, listing major life events that may or may not be of interest to journalists, readers, etc. and it was strange, as an exercise and in the reading back of this story of self that could be interpreted, as one person pointed out, as a tale of redemption and self-improvement. And whilst I can see why someone might think that, and yes, my life has taken some interesting and unexpected turns; this made me uncomfortable. It made my scalp itch and my throat sore. Why did this idea piss me off so much? What’s wrong with ‘doing well’?
Well, it’s because I’m not a progressive ‘narrative’ leading towards a happy ending – better educated, better employed, better spoken, and all the other tropes of improvement that imply a leaving behind, a shedding of skins, an outgrowing of identities too paltry, unworthy, ugly or squalid to endure. I find this ideology of progress or teleology even, offensive to say the least. I haven’t left my previous experiences behind – I’m not ‘better’ now. Language and its dualist structures doesn’t help. I am this, I was that… names, nouns, fixed in place, ossified, judged. And so what those experiences might have been I’ll resist naming in order not to pin myself down with a classification slapped on my forehead. Fuck the biography. I am involving not evolving (as Deleuze might say) I’m a series of folds and overlaps, undoings and redoings; enfolding, enveloping identities, neither this nor that but many, few, maybe. It isn’t simply a matter of moving on, away from, leaving behind. I won’t be fixed as an example of meritocracy in action or any other call that binds me as recognisable, a subject in a happy ever after – therefore knowable, demystified, ripe for targeted marketing, expectation, and radical exposure and eventually, censure. We are all complicated, all evading simplistic taxonomies of being. Perhaps that’s the way forward – avoiding announcing my forms as nouns, but as gerunds, performative, , changing, doing, being, in flux, interlinked, exchanging… an infinite verb – so I’m still stripping, stealing, loving, learning, mothering, sleeping, shitting, fucking, singing, screaming, bleeding, breaking, laughing, breathing, breathing, breathing.
Wounding addresses this issue – it’s about secrets, and social/cultural expectations and pressures. How do we cope when we don’t ‘fit’ into the roles and ideals available to us? Do any of us fit? Of course we don’t, how can we? If our messy, hideous, fucked up, gorgeous, non-conforming selves were entirely acceptable and lovable, we might be impossible to control, it might just be impossible to sell us the commodities that will ‘improve’ us, fix us, make us happier, younger, fitter (have I just referenced Radiohead?). Call me paranoid, but a society of contented, self-accepting (and therefore, tolerant and empathic) individuals doesn’t make for profitable business or fearful, passive and malleable citizens. So I’m involving, not evolving, I’m loving, loving, loving.