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I walk around the trailer park that has been dropped on top of a small hill like it’s just bird shit on a windshield. The boy with ‘Mama Tried’ tattooed underneath his eyes and ‘Country Fried’ inscribed above them got shot through the heart in the smallest trailer in Hogwaller.
What people don't tell you about grieving is that you'll spend months or years or maybe the rest of your life in this nebulous zone where half the time you love everyone in your life and the other half those same people repel you and you can't always tell which mood you'll be in at any given moment. Even the most grounded people become frenetic.
I saw her at a campus TGIF three weeks ago. Talking Gender Issues Fridays. It’s a weekly chat-session where students come to look at the week’s current events through a gender lens. The campus used to be single-sex, but now we call it gender inclusive. We were going out of business; there are only so many radical lesbian 17 year olds, and most of them already get into Smith.
Imagine if McGregor were a woman, I’d wonder throughout the day, as I sifted through the barrage of emails from my boss, all his reminders to cc him the next time I sent this or that, the notifications that he’d be leaving early again as I stayed late. Imagine McGregor in an office. Imagine him…or her, aged a bit past her prime. How would she prep for a fight? What would it be like to be a woman like her?
The truth was I knew exactly what was happening, how the possibility of power had clouded my judgment. In bed at night, I thought about putting a stop to all of it and just playing the season out, but I couldn’t shake my contempt for Parker. It wasn’t about baseball anymore, not in the slightest. It had taken just a few days for me to turn the war of aesthetics into a full-fledged revolution.
This is later, after the White House, after he has returned to San Clemente. He has shed the name Nixon, that iron albatross around his neck, and instead now calls himself Milhous. He savors the sound of it on his tongue, rolling it around like a sculptor molding clay on a pottery wheel. He speaks it like an incantation. It does not sound like the past; it instead glimmers faintly with the potential of new life.
“YOU IDIOT!” I scream, but only in my head. For 25 years now I haven’t been able to speak my mind, especially not to a stranger. Enrolling in Glenda’s Eagle Training course is supposed to help, but for now I’m still a grounded hatchling teetering my way through week three of the seven-week program.
“And there’s got to be some guidelines for this.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Lionel said. “So what are they? You just let me know and I’ll follow them. By God, I will.”
I didn’t have much for him. I sputtered some nonsense about my side of the refrigerator and if he saw Doritos in the pantry, especially the Cool Ranch kind in the blue bag, he should just assume that they were mine. But that was pretty much it.
And it was at that moment—seeing that light and realizing that other people were together in the world in that very same light while he was in an alley watching himself on TV—that he finally felt something: an overwhelming, honest and simple sense of sadness that felt like a beautiful release.
"I didn't want to ever be outside of this moment. I knew at some point I would look at the picture I'd just taken and feel an overwhelming sense of loss. I thought as long as we could manage to stay inside this particular hotel room, to avoid our phones and every person with whom we'd ever come into contact, we would continue to feel whole. We were revolutionaries, goddamnit. These were our accumulation of beautiful moments. Before the world fractured us. I don't expect you to understand how I became Brad Pitt in that moment, how we all just flew along down the highway. Bandits. Ex-patriots. In love with this countryside, if not this country. Paper Moon. The Last Picture Show. All of this shot in black and white. Only the final scene in color."
Legs Get Led Astray
FOUR NEW ESSAYS BY CHLOE CALDWELL! Plus the original essays that made you fall in love with Chloe!
Jason Phoebe Rusch
Jason Phoebe Rusch is a queer writer from the Chicago suburbs. His full-length debut Dualities explores gender and patriarchy from the perspective of a man who was socialized and is currently still read as a woman. He is interested in complication and nuance and messy human failing, his own and that of others.