"It's hard not to picture us all as some enormous barn-dancing partner swap, boys lined up on the left and girls on the right (bois on the left and grrls on the right?), every few bars a quick spin full of laughter and sideways looks before we get swept back into the crowd and off to see how the next one fits."- 2:18am, morning after my birthday.
The thing is, and I don't know if this is true for everyone but it is very true of me, that I am extremely susceptible to the influence of the people around me. It shows up first in my speech. I pick up accents within moments and begin reflecting them back to the speaker, then words show up, and after a few days entire sentence structures will have been borrowed into the way I talk. Being a ridiculously verbal person means that the way I talk influences the way I think, at least as much as is true of the other way around, so it must be the case that who I spend time with substantially alters the way I think. Sentence structures indicate a set of assumptions about the world and I will absorb these untested, often unconsciously, from the people I look up to. This may well be why I run so fast from some potential connections, with people who are probably lovely but aren't who I want to see myself in, and pursue some others so intensely. It may also be why I am so very comfortable being the young one, the learner, the wide-eyed and new- in all sorts of relationships.
The other thing is that I never really believe something til I state it out loud. Generally to another human being, so I can't even try to dodge out through the speak-it-to-an-empty-room trick. This has meant that travelling in non-English-speaking-countries (or being otherwise verbally isolated) tends to bring out my incredibly bizarre side, apparently completely lost without the context of conversation. The less I talk to people the less I remember how to do it, and the weirder my attempts are once I try again. It also means that privacy means something weird in my world, something tough to grapple with, something I need to be constantly aware of, if not for my own sake then to avoid exposing others who have not consented to it.
"It's about permeability, and the lines around things, and how open they are- how conscious or not that state is- about whether donning armour is a decision or an instinctive response, a survival necessity or something that will suffocate me. If throwing open the gates, opening the borders, is beautiful or stupid or wise (or all of the above)."- Smeared blue pen and saltwater splotches from trying to write on the beach up in Brisbane.
This year I think I became more aware of nonlinear trajectories- that it's possible to lose progress as well as make it (the sense of constant forward motion has to have been one of the most thrilling misconceptions of my early 20's). That things do not begin, escalate and descend in regular patterns. Even gardening, which seems to run with story-book simplicity from seed to plant to harvest to compost-heap veers off in unpredictable ways. The explosive early demise of Matiatia's zucchinis, for instance, or the leading roles played by behind-the-scenes stars like worms and micro-organisms and the constant recycling of everything. I can't decide if gardens are poorer for ideas than Hollywood or infinitely richer, because everything borrows from everything else but the result is always unique.
I spent most of last year dissociating myself from my intense gender-preoccupations, enjoying the process of diverting from the One True Path of butch/femme relationship seeking I'd accidentally installed myself on. Or rather, diverting not from that potential partnership (which can be organic & beautiful and is clearly something I find compelling) but from the prewritten rules that come with it (which are frequently restrictive and filled with cognitive dissonance for, apparently, all concerned), and from any sense that it was the only potential connection for me.
I've always been intrigued by how the labels we wear change our perceptions of ourselves and (sometimes very directly) the things that we do (I recall actually shaving my legs at once point, because that's what femmes do, and it took me an hour or so to remember that it's not something I do or have ever done). Whereas in past years I've donned frilled aprons and learnt how to bake, cooed over teacups and counted success by how much positive attention I received from the objects of desire, this year's obsessions (gardens and rubberwork) required surprisingly drastic changes in attitude & wardrobe. I started wearing my doc martens again for the first time in years because they were the only boots sturdy enough not to break apart while digging up the rock-and-clay side garden bed, I wore my old army pants for all the pockets (water bottle, trowel, secateurs, garden wire), I gave up on stylish shade options and just wore a daggy old bucket hat. My fingernails were never clean, I left the house with dirt smudges up my cheeks, I never had time to bother dressing up for the pub because every last spare moment was spent in the garden- and I was beamingly, ridiculously happy with it all.
It's not that gardening, grubbiness, hammer-wielding or physical strength are not femme pursuits, or are exclusive of teaparties and the joys of baking, I guess it's that these obsessions have come over me so quickly and intensely that the entire 'project' of being a femme and all the work that entailed has been lost somewhere in the dust. This is the point I guess where I finally realise the truth of what I've been agreeing with forever, which is that gender identity is more than superficial, more than dating pools, more than how you spend your time. It turns out I'm a femme anyway, but a more honest one now. I used to hide a lot behind that word- it was very handy in disguising my fear of trying new things for fear of looking foolish, and my fear especially of trying physical things for fear of falling flat on my face. It's not a hiding place any more, or a description of dating desires, or an indicator of what I'm like in bed or who I'm likely to be there with. It's not even that important to me right now. But it's still there, after a whole year of being completely neglected, so I suppose that maybe it gets to count as real.
Of course having strayed from the One True Path hasn't so much limited how easily distracted I am by what I desire, it's just expanded the categories so that there's a whole lot more around to be distracted by. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes I just want to smack myself, tell me to get a grip, and go think about something other than beautiful boys and fierce grrls and all the compelling potential adventures for a while. It's nice at those times that I have a garden to lose myself in, or can pick up a hammer and spend a few hours turning inner-tubes into harnesses, and emerge reminded that there's more going on in my life than who I want to fuck (and who may or may not want to fuck me).