How to Try on Words

Some mirrors have built in self-esteems that bulk up the emaciated version of your own. You look and no longer notice the distortion of your chest or belly or thighs or gender.

Some mirrors are like that friend who only has good things to say even when there is nothing good to say.

Some mirrors remind you everything you are, zooming in and IN and IN to really emphasize each and every flaw discomfort.

You walk into a dressing room with 7 words; the maximum allowed. You alternate sizes because you can never keep track of what numbers you are. You feel excited because so many stores are full of words that do not match you or speak you and here, you have found many that seem to be comfortably appropriate.

There is a blue word and a button down word. There is a striped word and a long-sleeved word. There is a cotton word and a linen/poly mixed word. There is a word that is too difficult to pronounce, but you have read it before and it is exactly what you have been looking for.

So, you begin. Removing just your shirt and undershirt because these words are topical. You take a deep breath because you often forget to breathe when shopping for new words. You ignore the bulge of your skin, the yellowing of your skin. The burns and scars. You ignore the way your nude often ruins your mood. Again, you breathe.

You slowly remove each word from wooden hanger and try on. You pose and twist, researching your angles. You use tongue against teeth to articulate each word off your flesh.

Not this one.

This is definitely not right.

You refuse to get discouraged.

All words back on their hangers, you put your clothes back on. Breathe. Exit dressing room.

You hand all words back to attendant and force a smile. You look around at a store full of vocabulary and feel the frustration of being unable to connect to what they were selling.

Outside, you breathe in spring. You romanticize the season soon approaching. Suddenly, you inhale a word. Blink in two more. Your lungs expand to take in five more. All free. All one-size-fits all. All gender neutral. All encompassing. All pronounceable.

Sometimes you just can’t force the words to stick to your skin. You have to let them come to you.

This is how you try on words.


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