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A Question of Numbers

I would imagine it would be difficult to date you. You seem like you’d be hard to please. What’s wrong with your face? You’re going to die alone. You’re too picky. Loosen up. You’re intimidating. You’re unapproachable.

I haven’t slept with someone in over two years. I haven’t been in a relationship in close to seven years. (Side note: If it hadn’t been for a very brief fling with an ex-boyfriend, it’s actually been more like four years since I was intimate with a different ex-boyfriend.) This is not the first time this has happened. I am thirty-three years old.
I’ve made brief appearances on online dating apps like OK Cupid, Tinder and Match. I met a man off OK Cupid once at a neighborhood dog park. We let our dogs run around and play while we sat on a bench and talked.
“So, you’re the manager at Skyline Chili,” I said. “Does that mean you’re the one in charge of the three-way signs?” “Yeah."
He didn’t seem to find the question as humorous as I did. I changed the subject and asked him…

Vitiligo

My grandmother has a three-hundred-acre farm in Kentucky. When I was younger, there used to be a tree house overlooking a field filled with the kind of dark green grass that felt soft underneath my bare feet. One Summer Sunday evening, my family was out at the farm for dinner. I was around eight or nine years old. I was playing with my older cousin, he was four years older. He and I walked quickly up the old rotting wood steps of the tree house, and though he had made it safely to the top floor, I began to hear the sounds of cracking wood underneath my small feet.
The next thing I knew, I was about to fall through the floor. Somehow, I had known to throw my arms out to my side to keep from falling through to the ground. Underneath my hanging legs was a pile of wood, the rusty nails almost glowing in decay. I screamed for an adult, and whoever it was helped pulled me up and out of the rotting hole. There were red, tender scraps along the inside of both of my arms. They hurt like hell. T…

Patrick

His back was turned away from me as he began to undress. I stood in the bedroom of someone’s house wondering if what he had said was true. 
“You think too much,” he said.
His ability to make me feel less than human was his super power. He was back in Kentucky during his college fall break, and had called to let me know he was in town. He gave me the address of someone’s house, and I ended up driving thirty minutes to get to him.  It was close to ten in the evening when I got into my ’91 Volvo. I left the wet orange leaves that were stuck in the left windshield wiper. When I turned the car on, the volume on the cd player was loud with the vocals of a woman talking about waking up in her makeup. I turned down the volume and slightly rolled down the windows to let in the tepid October air. Turning into the darkly lit neighborhood, I had trouble finding the house. I turned around and drove slow. In a driveway at the end of a street I saw the white of his car. I had only been a passenger a coup…

Don't Bother Him with Your Words

It is trite to begin a begin a piece with the definition of a word. But in order to discuss my relationship with shame, it is important to understand how this word is defined. According to Webster’s dictionary, shame (noun) is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. To be ashamed (adjective) is to be reluctant or unwilling to do something because of shame or embarrassment.
The definition of shame includes the words consciousness of guilt, and the definition of ashamed includes the words reluctant or unwilling. I highlighted the words consciousness of guilt and reluctant or unwilling because they are the lens through which I see my relationship with shame. There is the guilt of not having the ability to move on, the guilt of not having enough sexual partners, of not being enough. I am reluctant and unwilling in a lot of ways, reluctant to look a man in the eyes or to even say his name. I am unwilling to let myself get hurt again, to turn my vulne…

The Cool Girl

In the fall of 2011, I went out to dinner with my boyfriend at the time for one of his friend’s birthday. This is how I was introduced: she’s like a dude, but hot, as we sat down at a table full of his male friends. I don’t remember how I responded to that, I probably didn’t respond at all. He wasn’t wrong, but it seems my reaction to this statement nearly seven years later has become altered. When I think back on relationships past I wonder, how had I become so indoctrinated with The Cool Girl ideology I wouldn’t allow myself to be heard above a whisper?
I’ve always been one of the guys, perhaps a symptom of growing up with mostly boys in my neighborhood friend group. When I was young, I wore Superman pajamas and would tie a blanket around my neck running around the house pretending I could fly. One of my favorite shows was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s a story that’s often been told in my family that when I was maybe three or four years old I took off all my clothes in the gr…

A Year in Rupert, West Virginia

In October of 2012, I found myself driving back to Rupert, West Virginia where I had lived for a year as a VISTA volunteer in the AmeriCorps program. I was passing through, on my way to a friend’s wedding in Lexington, Virginia. I arrived in Rupert in the late afternoon, just before the community center was closing for the day. The smell of powdered apple cider lingered in the air as I greeted the elderly couple who ran the center, and whom I worked with during my placement. Charlotte and Frank were both from West Virginia and opened Wellspring of Greenbrier in 2007 to assist the poor, homeless, transient or otherwise disadvantaged people of Greenbrier County.

A few minutes after my arrival, a man dressed head-to-toe in brown camouflage walked through the door and had an unusual request. He wanted to know if they had vinyl records for sale. A strange tension mixed in the air with the cider as Charlotte seemed put off by such a radical request. During my tenure at the community center, …