So I am beginning a new writing exercise that has me super happy. The challenge is to free write (at least a paragraph) every morning. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to have a direction in the slightest, it doesn’t even have to be based in real lived experience. The challenge is to just write and allow your mind to pull you where it wants to go, instead of dictating what journey you will be on today. This morning found me in a very poetic and nostalgic place.
Writing excercise 1: “Xavier”
Flashes of boyhood come and go like ships in the night, some linger on longer than I would like. Memories of man-sized hands pulling at seems, or the taste of warm blood, fresh from your nose, when it meets your tongue, the boy who caused it standing feet away chanting, “faggot”. Other ships leave before I am ready to part with them. The mischievous smile of your mother when she would lean in and whisper secret plans that involved you skipping school with her, finding a lost present months after Christmas, or finally getting to sit next to the boy you’ve crushed on for weeks.
I remember being held, looking Xavier in the face for the first time as our 9-year-old frames swayed, slowly, in my living room. Saturdays meant sleepovers for us and tonight we were practicing dancing like grown ups. Marvin Gaye’s “If I Should Die Tonight” made the magic hour almost unbearable. My nerves prevented me from keeping up with his two-step. There I was stumbling in his arms, attempting to dance to music I didn’t understand, and all he kept doing was smiling. Occasionally he would laugh and help me back into the steps. Then “you dance like you white” followed by “shut up”.
I remember the way he would say “put your lips like this” when we would practice kissing and the look on his face when we would take turns touching down there.
I remember what it felt like to move down there, to have that sensation tingle and to see his sun-lit smile when I did the same to him. Xavier’s face lingers in my mind at times, like a ship slowly coming to port. First a distant glimmer of his teeth, maybe a hand then brighter; his arms. Even more bright; him standing in the doorway. I keep him in the front of my mind when I need a little piece of joy. In the times when it seems the world is a small and cold place. Times when I find my mornings filled with disappointment and dread.