It kinda feels like skating, what we’re doing here. Without our compass, our driving force, we’ve felt a bit lost, and as though we can’t “connect” to our purpose, and time is so limited in each place, there’s a superficiality that we can’t ignore. We want to swim, but we can only skate across. Especially as we headed further south, into territory so many had bestowed anxieties on us regarding our safety. We haven’t felt too worried here, but in all honesty I’d rather face a sense of danger than have our only experience of a place be based in freeway traffic and gas station food. There’s guts and grime that we’re honestly craving at this point.
Texas and New Mexico went by in a blur, although we did at least get to find out about what it means to live here by staying with family friends of Michael’s and then Teague’s cousin. Visiting historic places like The Alamo, the last fort in Texas where culture was co-opted and a place of ancient worship became a warzone, evoked a potent sense of hopelessness. What we learned from these tourist traps and local insights was that America is deeply divided in its objectives. It’s lonely at the top, and a great deal of responsibility comes with as much power as America has, that after the last presidency, it has become greatly lost in its aims. No-one can say what progress needs to be made, as regression has been cleverly masked as the best way forward, while insidious oligarchical agendas play out patiently. The drive continues with the sole aim for being where Michael needs us to be, and we found some joy in attending to little scavenger hunts of activities and aspects they had hoped to draw inspiration and healing from..
How do you support someone when they’re in pain, stuck, and a level of bitterness or envy has infiltrated your dynamic? We’ve all become suddenly vulnerable, placing a kind of amnesty on this window of time in order to make it through. Five days feels like fifty. Can we even help one another at all?
And then we arrived in Louisiana, and the sight of the swamps and greenery after days of desert and distance was so soothing. In time optimism was restored, and finding openly queer culture again lifted our spirits and sense of safety. The discussions Teague and I had in the car were so valuable. He told me about not needing to take on all the work myself, the responsibility for all relationships is ultimately equally split between the parties involved, and calling out behaviours that is confusing or upsetting can ultimately be valuable, better for the strength of the connection. Forging a bond with him will honestly be one of the highlights of this trip, though it is somewhat tainted by the absence of Michael, I’m grateful our friendship has deepened through sharing history, vistas and sing-alongs.
That night in New Orleans, we wound up at a gogo bar where a few bills in a jockstrap got you great chat, a backrub, and a cigarette in a fancy holder. It was here I became conscious of how integral the country’s military is to its culture. So many ex-service trying to find their way again, and access their own identity and sexuality in a healthy way. A thick, furry dancer walked me back to the hotel and we made out like horny teenagers in the street. To feel passion again, to feel desired, its a tonic that cannot be discounted where approached respectfully, openly and consciously.
And then, as we dragged our feet through New Orleans airport we found out that Roe v Wade had been overturned by a conservative Supreme Court years in the scheming. This piece of law had provided access to abortion and essential reproductive healthcare for fifty years. Its dismantling is a death knell for many people. History being made and an all-out assault on women’s rights and lives, catching people of colour, Indigenous people, trans people and disabled people all in its evil undertow. In its wake, white supremacy, homophobia and racism have lurched up in victory. The world reels, and the three of us finally reunite, to strangely go to Disney World of all places.
Recovery from the happiest place on earth was swift as we crossed into South Carolina and dipped our feet in Lake Hartley, the most grounding experience of the whole trip that saw my spirit through to Virginia where we embraced by the Crabbyapples, the gorgeous duo behind a Tori drag star. Their warmth, hospitality, generosity all served to recharge us so we could have the kinds of discussions we truly need, and remember that this is not our circus, though we are empowered to leave our mark on the movement.
I know I’m all over the place, and so much has happened. I don’t know what this all means yet. I don’t know when I’ll really get the chance to process. Life is like this; they say time heals, but I find it just distracts, piles on other things that squash the acuteness of the pain you feel, numbs it. It’s what you do with that time that matters, how you make sure you attend to resolution steadfastly, proactively. Investigate the hurt, communicate with it, and meet its needs. As the brilliant Augusten Burroughs taught me in the book that changed my life, the past doesn’t haunt you, you haunt it.
By my next blog, we’ll have seen New York, a place I’ve long dreamed of visiting. We;ll have also said goodbye to Teague’, and myself and Michael take it from there, finding a whole new pace, and seeking the solace/solidarity of more friends to aid us in appreciating what America has yet to teach us – or what it is we have been unable or unwilling to learn about it.
Thank you for staying with me. Home is a sharp sensation now, an ache of 1%. The reserves I draw from are your care, your sharing.