In preparation for some people that are coming to film me for a project, I began looking through my collection of journals and papers (seriously, casa mala reminds me of my mentor’s (RIP) old office on the 9th floor overlooking 22nd Street and Park Ave. South, filled with piles of papers in no particular order.
I was looking for specific things, but found other things that reminded me of identities I don’t talk about, identities I rarely claim because I have the privilege to not have to claim them. Well, not too often anyway. Well, not publicly. I will invite lovers that I feel close to to trace my naked back with their finger so they can feel where my spine curves away from the path it is ‘supposed’ to take. The last person I fell in love with even mentioned it in a poem. As I get older, I have to own up to it more. I can’t carry as much as I used to, can’t stand up for as long as I used to. Hell, can’t even sit still for as long as I used to. Usually I own up to it my head, and usually it’s with fear. Will I end up a hunchback like that man who sits in the local McDonald’s, every paper he owns scattered on the table before him, alone.
I don’t talk about it because it feels appropriative. It feels a little shameful and thinking about it this morning has even brought me to tears. The years encased in plastic that I tried to decorate a la Frida with quotes and stickers and drawings. But I am no Frida. There are no pictures of me in my brace(s). At least not that I have ever seen. I have to ask my mother about that.
Today all I have though is the memories of x-rays, physical therapy, electrodes on my bare back, the fear of the electric handsaw every time my torso was wrapped in plaster and I needed to be cut out of it for a new brace. My daring kids who teased my in the first grade to punch me in the stomach so that they would hurt their hands against my belly covered in medical grade plastic. My preteen years and feeling so fucking ugly as I wore huge dresses that could never quite hide what I had to wear underneath. Questions from my doctor about my period and relief when it came because whatever state my spine was in then, would be the state it would stay in, until, as I aged, it would get worse.
And today, a paper that I found, of how a kid like me was supposed to wear her brace in the summer.