When I was 14 I was Closer to Fine

from by Athens Boys Choir

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When I was 14, I was Closer to Fine
Had an Untouchable Face, was 32 Flavors and then some.
My jungle was filled with rubyfruits
My AOL Chat Room of choice? Women to Women.

The Indigo Girls were the first gay people I knew
They helped make the well less lonely.
At an Ani show in Miami, the AC broke and it got so hot
that women tore off their shirts and bras and went topless.
I was surrounded by boobs and danced myself to heat exhaustion.

I was inconsolable when Angel died.
I cried myself to sleep and dreamt of her scooping me up in her pickle tub & saving me.
Once a week, I practiced my 9-1-1 speech.“I don’t want to die” I’d say,
“I just want some sleep. Wake me up before the darkness consumes me.”
Every day I dreamed of running away
I was a cry for help in the most textbook of ways.
Every year I felt every one of those 525,600 minutes.
My favorite mix-tape had a Sark quote on it. I was uncool way before it was hip.
If I could speak to that old me now, I’d remain silent.

I had 3 necklaces with pride rings. I bought them all with my best friend Ali on St. Marks Street and tucked them discreetly under environmental T’s.
It hurts my heart when people get too cool for their own histories.

I cried at the end of “When Night is Falling” every time. At 17, Pat Carten kissed me.
She looked just like Jenny Shimizu and had a lip piercing and thought I was beautiful for all the reasons I knew I was ugly and I sang “ I Kissed a Girl” until my voice got hoarse and my parents stopped believing I was happy.

I believed in the Tooth Fairy until I was nearly in middle school.
A year later, I’d be giving hand jobs
and smoking shitty weed in Taco Bell parking lots.
I bought a top hat and toyed with the idea of going Goth.
I loved Nirvana but couldn’t Come as I Was.
I smelled like Teen Spirit and Bath and Body Freesia.
I bought a guitar. Serenaded my mom in minor chords singing “You’ve got a fast car…”
For years I didn’t know whether to be a clown or a trucker.

Nobody seemed to notice I flinched when touched.
I was the only one of my friends who knew how to ride the bus.
I looked up to older Lesbians and thanked them for their courage.

I read Stone Butch Blues cover to cover.
18-year-olds now have never heard of Matthew Shepard but I’m confident one day they’ll be able to marry their lovers.

It saddens me when my own community fights against gay marriage legality.
Forgetting the most radical acts have been fought in the name of equality.
We’ve spent enough time fighting each other, let’s try solidarity.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get married but I’ve already planned the entire ceremony.
There’ll be a barbershop quartet leading us out to the hit tunes of Doris Day.
My parents stopped fantasizing my wedding by the time I hit puberty.

We’re all weird kids. At 14 my parents went out of town and I took clippers to my scalp. I ate a whole pizza and puked most of it out.
For years my fingers wandered past the ridges of my hard palate.

At 13, my aunt got me a subscription to Sassy Magazine.
I took YM quizzes in a search for possible self-identities.
I watched My So Called Life and longed to kick it with Angela and Ricky.
I thought Claire Danes should dump Jared Leto, sneak into the boiler room to meet me.
We wouldn’t make out or anything.
We’d just like talk about our, like, budding identities.

Pedro was the bravest person on television.
When he died, I felt proud to have known him.
He never knew me. At 17 I came out to my mom because the doctor said she was dying.

Got a fake ID at sixteen. Saw my dentist the first night at the gay bar
and developed a phobia of dental hygiene.
Wasn’t born with all my adult teeth.
Still chew on baby molars but was 29 before I got my first cavity.
And there’s a metaphor in there. And in everywhere else. And in everything.

Quantum mechanics states that in the same time and place
there’s a baby Queer in me that both did and didn’t make it.
One that faded and one that followed Hemmingway when he said
“We’re strong in our broken places”. I give us both names.
Make the one that didn’t survive my spirit guide.
My parasitic twin with extra limbs from my gut to hold me up
or wrap around me when I want nothing more from this world than human touch.
To tap me on the shoulder and remind me that more than once you’ve saved yourself.
More than twice you relied on strangers and denial
And that sometimes living a lie is akin to survival.

So I go back in time, and release the bourdon of responsibility
of protecting the former me.
I throw up my truths and let gravity determine the weight of my youth.
Then I add to the lucid by subtracting the delusions.
I separate what divides me and you
And multiply life by the Power of Two.


from Heartstrings and Hamstrings, released January 22, 2013



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