writing out the feelings after camp is becoming a ritual. i won’t bring you up to speed on A-camp because I’ve already written about it in that way, you know, like in a q& a sort of way. this piece is going to be different. this is about feelings. because seriously, on top of mount feelings is where i’ve been for seven days and now i’m in the fucking bronx and so the feelings need a safe place to go.
the world is a vampire
i know the world doesn’t want me. coming home to more gay hate crimes in new york says that. the men on the street that talk shit to me or eyeball me or use their bodies to make me feel uncomfortable and small tell me that. every time someone tells me i should grow out my hair, wear a dress, calls me a faggot or a dyke, body shames me cuz i’m not a size 2 or 6 or even 12, i’m made very aware that large parts of this world don’t want me. they’d rather i and people like me are publicly stoned in the street, shocked with cattle prods in the name of god or just hidden away somewhere in a house married to the right man and having the right babies and they’d probably prefer that i was white too. i know it’s not my fault that the world is on some bullshit. the world that doesn’t want me is a place that values brutality and confrontation over conversation. it hyper-sexualizes its daughters, has no problem getting kicks from raping us and blaming us while quietly doing the same to its sons. it’s a world run by people who don’t care about their fellow humans. it’s a world that values money over love and greed over community. it crushes the life out of so many of us. gay, straight, poly, uni, bambi, whatever.
that being said i don’t hate the world. i don’t hate people. it’d be so easy to hate the drunk white rich privileged stupid brobeasts that stumble out of bars and think that me and people who look and fuck like me are walking targets for their underserved power and over-valued ignorance. it’d be so easy to hate over-zealous pentecostal jamaican/puertoricans that get on the 2 train and preach about how my gay ass is swan-diving right into the fiery pits of hell while I’m just trying to get to work. i don’t have the time or the extra energy to hate anybody. however, i must protect myself. i won’t deal with liars, shit-talkers, happiness haters, jealous insecure energy vampires or people who don’t know how to apologize. and if i do deal with people like that, i see them very fucking clearly and i’ve got my eye on them and know when they’re being shady. but mostly i close doors when i’ve been hurt. and it’s like that with the world. i won’t go to sports bars i’m not familiar with cuz drunk men of all shades are 9 times out of ten a threat to me or just come up with the most dumb ass invasive things to say. dear sirs, no i’m not the man, no we don’t want a three way with you and it’s none of your business how i have sex with someone. i don’t attend traditional churches for the same reason. i watch my back and my step at all times.
shit is exhausting. and like, my life is good. seriously, i’m doing ok. i got a grown up job, a roof over my head, and sometimes girls think i’m cute and want to talk to me. it could be worse. but still, sometimes it’s too much. the outside the extra the loud the rude the hate is just too much.
A-camp has become this place that gives me the strength to deal with the ugly in the world. i’ve never ever been a part of something that affirmed me so completely and so positively. for a week, my entire personhood is given value without anything expected in return. i’m worthy, connected, loved and am able to share the scariest and best pieces of my life with people who actually give all the rights effs. even on a superficial level, like, i get hit on at A-camp. I get told that i’m wearing a nice suit n tie, that my short hair fits me and looks good. like what the fuck? this never happens in the real world. (ok my cousin Gloria and Marcy my sister-wife alway tell me I’m beautiful and my brother thinks i’m cool and together and that he’s proud of me.) it’s the unknown outside world of crazy that likes to take pot shots at weirdos like me, you know? i know that i’m not traditionally attractive. i know that with one haircut appointment, i’ve completely turned into the scary fat butch dyke that runs around with her gay agenda trying to turn people’s virgin daughters into promiscuous homosexual whores. i have a magic dildo wand that does the actual turning btw.
at a-camp everyone has that same magic dildo wand and it bursts with love, glitter, sparkly tights, sick ass bowties, polyamorous platonic life partnerships, pineapples for dinner and mean cunts that tell you that you’re foxy while also telling you to not rub your yankee hat on their boobs. it’s the best place in the world.
that’s all i feel. i’m riding that wave hard. these people: the autostraddle staff, the campers, the bears and the blue shark, all of them have shown me love. now, i work my ass off at camp. we all do. the staff that gives a fuck, gives all of them to everyone. we are there spiritually, emotionally and logistically for everyone for pretty much 5 days straight, every hour we are awake. it’s all good for the most part and sometimes it isn’t. sometimes we are dirty, crumpled messes wiping mascara and eyeliner from our eyes, while throwing up last night’s shitty cheap beer, remembering that our parents hate us, that people we love have passed away, that the world is waiting to chew us up when we get home. A-camp gets real with a quickness. the shell that protects me is deep and thick but at camp it falls away. at camp, i cry in front of 100 strangers for a workshop that’s more like a conversation without even realizing it. it’s like ‘oh and then this happened in my life and i learned this thing’ and now i’m crying into my fitted. i don’t think i knew what a good cry felt like before Autostraddle camp.
so back to euphoria, i’m in it and riding it and it feels so good. it feels so good i don’t even have time to make up metaphors for how good it feels. i’ve been given this good energy, this love healing energy and now i’ve got to hold onto it. dole it out in small doses. make it long-lasting. channel it into other things like my creative projects, this blog, a fancy homemade brunch, a shoulder for the lonely woman crying on the train, the patience to take deep breaths and not get easily riled up. it’s the energy i will use to survive my time on this earth. i’ve thanked every deity that i believe in for bringing me to autostraddle and making me a part of A-camp. You know La Virgen is first then comes Mother Earth then Buddha and Jesus and RuPaul takes the rear. maybe not in that order and sometimes other things and people fall into my prayers. what i’m trying to say is that i’m thankful. so so thankful that this place exists. that we can be free together and that all of you are real.
and i’m not stupid, i’ve been on this rodeo before. i know all about the A-camp crash. it happens about a month in. fb has been exploding all day every day, the texts come in every five seconds from all of the people i’ve swapped hugs and spit with and all of the jokes get a meme. then the month plus mark comes and life invades the space and we have business meetings to go to, dentist appointments, people that take advantage of our openess or we’re scared that we’ve said too much and pull away…
and then it’s lonely again. it’s me in my apartment not reblogging things on tumblr because i don’t want people to know i’m still on the internet and i haven’t texted back or written that thing cuz it’s just me in my apartment and i wish i had a puppy or a girlfriend. so i cook things with fancy names to feel busy and i write ideas on my chalk board to not look at my phone that has absolutely no missed calls or new texts. blankets are hidden under and saturday mornings turn into sundays at midnight watching grey’s anatomy on hulu because it feels like family.
and and then i’m laying up at my ceiling, dusting charred baby bits of green off my bed, blowing smoke into the air in a beater and carmen rios poom poom shorts and i remember that i still have a piece of all of you. i remember that i have to continue to participate in that A-camp magic because otherwise its disappearance is partly my fault too. self-care. self-love. all the things i preach come from practice. i’ve gotten so much of that energy from this place in the california mountains with all of the other beautiful queermos. i know that maybe some of you are in the same weird lonely place and that all i have to do is reach out for you to reach back. in a weird way, a-camp has helped me see that in my loneliest, most vulnerable and pitiful moments, i’m not alone. these feelings of anxiety, social isolation and extreme discomfort around new emotions and prying hearts is a shared feeling. i know that i’m not alone in finding the beauty in a woman’s thighs and in the way she works a pun. i’ve learned that sex is crazy and ok and for some people involves fists, 7 hour orgasms, no orgasms at all, kitten ears, broken headboards and twisted wrists, raspy voiced shouts of ecstasy and being in rhythm competition with bottom bunk mates. autostraddle has given me a family that doesn’t need my blood to feel my worth. a-camp is our time share in each other and if it sounds sappy and you’re rolling your eyes then you’ve either never been or just haven’t been broken by it yet. that’s cool. i’m down to cry and have all the feels with the brave souls that let me in.
final thoughts and god things
ya’ll hug me, tell me insanely funny jokes that make me flex my pee muscle and teach me how to be a better person. i don’t need to wallow in my loneliness or fear or anxiety. all of you exist in my daydreams, memories, split second brain farts and in text messages i finally send.
so i know god is real. i know god isn’t one thing or one being. i might not know exactly where, who, or what god is but i know that i feel the closest to the most divine when i’m on that mountain.