They call what I do bravery. They put me up on some pedestal of whore/martyr and ooh and ahh over me. They look at my long locks and long, long legs and say oh you’re so beautiful, I don’t know how you have trouble.
They don’t see the scars on my inner thighs; they don’t see the extra flesh bulging out from underneath the wire of my bra, my bra that now has trouble holding my breasts. Because I’m doing that other thing when the dissatisfaction has settled so deep inside me. I’m endlessly hungry and think that once I sate this lust of mine, I’ll be happy.
And I shrug to myself as I consume another jelly doughnut, feeling at least 3 rolls spanning from that underwire to my belly. If you can’t be happy, the consolation prize is being well-fed.
Still, I’m somehow brave. Still, I somehow have all the answers.
But all I do to elicit this admiration is put on my face. I put on my face and walk out into the dark street and then into a bar. I sit there, and I wait for love. Or whatever passes for love in that fleeting moment between my third beer and the eighth.
I go back to a faceless person’s place, we rut on his dirty sheets, and then I call a cab and come home, feeling emptier than before.
That’s what bravery is now. Bravery is hoping for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong people.
Bravery is holding out, and then giving in at the first touch of somebody who isn’t repulsive. Bravery is apparently the same thing as desperation, as that fog of neediness that rises to choke you because you’re lonely and can’t stand to be alone for another moment.
I guess, you could say, that bravery for me is not just ending it altogether.
If that’s bravery, fine. But really, I’m just trying to pin down happiness.
I can’t say I’ve never been happy. I go through moments of pure happiness. It’s addicting. It tastes like sunshine and fucking skittles and puppy kisses. But then, the thing about happiness is that you always need more of it to keep going. You need it, or otherwise every other moment without it is so pale and grey and heavy in comparison that you can’t bear to go on.
Happiness is a pill that’s too expensive for me to afford, most of the time. Happiness is sometimes at the bottom of a pint, underneath some sweaty human being, and sometimes it’s so much more. Sometimes it’s actually getting to see some fucking stars for once. Sometimes it’s bathing in the sea and baring my breasts on a beach and feeling free. Sometimes it’s just lying on the floor of my apartment, Mr. Fish swimming happily in his little tank, and the both of us listening to a record I just bought at the market.
But I tell these stories to admiring friends who are attached to people they say they love. Attached to what are called “significant others”. Significantly, this might be what makes them think of my life as some courageous tale. They ooh and ahh and envy me this life of fucking strangers.
This sad, pathetic life where all I do is put on my face, and hope for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong people.
Unbeknownst to them, one day I’m going to do the really brave thing and jump off this pedestal, in hopes of shattering into pieces so tiny that trying to find happiness will no longer mean anything to me.
This, I think, they’ll call “cowardice”.