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.

how do you exist

I enter into a classroom built by a prison-enthusiast. The shape of our learning today is circular and I stare into the faces of students with my forearm on their desks.

Intimacy is defined by the reveal of first time of menstruation and the ways in which I handle my sad.

I explain to a young warrior, with periwinkle-dipped fingernails and a mind with more stories than hours in the day to recount, that amidst all this sadness, there is beauty.

There are footprints, which follow me everywhere. Between the toes, sand. The sound of heels against Brooklyn pavement, like shells crushing toward a new formation. I can only dwell on the grey for so long, then I fondle the magic of life around me.

I’ve let go of the pills. There are none in my wardrobe and my pockets are empty of anything sharp, outside of keys that allow me entrance into safe buildings.

But sometimes I do think of gathering up handfulls of incantations that end in the illumination of my shadow looming.

“How do you exist?”

“How do you love/ how do you know to love?/ how to know when love is safe enough to sit inside and remain?”

/ / /

Allow time each day to cry. For the length of one pop song or three television commercials or a bike ride from one part of (insert place) to another.

Regard emotions as friendly reminders that you are still breathing, still existing, still searching.

Love tastes best when it is delicately placed on collarbones or shoulders. You can feel it by the way it makes everything around you seem like a Broadway version of life: glittery, loud with bodies dancing to the rhythm of language, musical.

Remain. Not because others ask you to, but because there are way too many poems (songs, stories, paintings, thoughts, sounds, movements) still birthing their way out of you to leave.