how to walk into rooms

It is easy to remember certain things.

I remember to brush my teeth after coffee, in the morning. And after my final bite, in the late evening.

I remember to bathe–or at least listen to the alert of my skin beckoning for a wash.

I remember to eat and drink water.

I remember to go to work. To walk dog. To check emails. To wash hands.

But lately, it’s like I’ve forgotten how to exist. How to walk into rooms. How to speak to others. How to breathe without panic pushing on my lungs.

I am thinking about Orlando. I am thinking of all those young people dancing, celebrating their queerness, the ability to move their bodies and be with each other. I am thinking about that moment in the earliest hours of day or latest of night when they were bombarded with a human so full of hate, and what they were all thinking in those final moments.

I’ve forgotten how to feel safe. Armed police with guns as long as their bodies stand in front of buildings. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be protected. To me, guns are guns are guns are guns.

I’ve forgotten how to sit. To read in peace without the howl of my organs, anxiously shaking me. I’ve forgotten how to enter buildings without obsessing over EXIT signs.

I remember young me in rainbow gear, wanting everyone to know how GAY I am. Proud of being OUTOUTOUT. I’ve forgotten how to wave my flags. They are at permanent half-staff now.

I remember how I used to see strangers as just a few words away from being future friends. I’ve forgotten how to trust people.

I was sitting outside, in a triangular park, with water and people on their phones and a dog trying to catch flies and giant white flowers that are called lilies or maybe something else. And I grabbed one of the petals because I needed something to hold onto that came from earth. Something that came from earth that wouldn’t hurt me. That would just let me cry into it. And so I sat in this park, amongst unaware new yorkers and I cried for the ones who got taken. And I cried because I gave up drugs and God and diet soda years ago and needed something to believe in. Something to ingest that would take me away.

I called my friend, Rebel, who wears wings only I can see. And I asked her what she saw and she told me trees. And she told me she’s writing poems again.

I remember the first pride parade I ever went to. I was draped in rainbows. I felt high on homosexuality.

I’ve forgotten how it feels to rainbow. How it feels to show my colors. How it feels to walk without fear.

How to walk into rooms. Breathe again. Easily. Tell me. How.