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  • Writer's pictureErin Clark


Don't say boyfriend. That's how they find you. Keep it nebulous. Unclear. So they are too busy wondering what is going on to say their ignorant things. They've always been coming for you. To ask what is wrong with you. To say you are their inspiration because, if they were you, they'd rather die. To say: If you can do the things you do, then they should be able to do the same without even trying - certainly without complaining. If you can do it, they should be able to do it easier and better. Which means they … uh... sympathize with how hard your life is, with all the limits and obstacles and struggles and pointlessness. "You are my struggle." you think, and the frustration that the irony of that will be lost on them seizes you. But you have committed passionately to not letting the way the world sees you define what you will let yourself have. You have learned to stop wasting energy trying to reconcile their opinions with your experience. You make art to reset in yourself and let the dissonance unsettle them. They try to undo you, they make you. Just don't say boyfriend. If you say boyfriend they will loose your scent and come for him. "Was she disabled when you met?" They ask, wanting to know exactly what type of hero he is. "It's so kind, that you would be with her." As though it would feel like a compliment to assert that the person he loves is so worthless he is truly noble for choosing them. And what value is there in accolades that come from the kind of people who think of relationships in categories of deserve and normal and status and power. Of course, he *is* noble. For the very sincerity they say cannot exist. Pretending to love someone is not noble. But now that they have come to poison it, sincerely loving who he loves - you- is. They try to undo him, they make him. But don't say boyfriend, because then they will ask him, “Are you sure you’re up for that?” the burden of you unfathomable. Tsking at the perfect future he has mystifyingly sacrificed. disapproving and incredulous. So, sure, he’s a hero - a stupid one. People with narrow minds prefer heroes they can look down on. You, look up. You know exactly what kind of hero he is, because he is yours. No matter how persistently they diminish you, you trust him when he makes you feel valued. You do bigger and more magical things when you feel that way. You can say hero all day. Just don't say boyfriend. As soon as you say boyfriend, women will preen at him. Make the offer of a 'real woman' on the side of his defective one. When he doesn't pick up on it, or if he does and turns them down, they will aim at you. "He would have gone with me, but I wanted to let you have a chance." They will say in actual words. Like that's what friends do. Like he has no agency. Like someone with so little respect for him would be more attractive than you by default. Like it was always a competition and you had no right to participate, let alone win. You can enjoy your moment - by their grace. As long as you don't say boyfriend. Boyfriend makes the women vicious. "He doesn't really like you, you know. He's just acting that way to be nice. It's only a matter of time before he gets tired of dealing with you. You shouldn’t be so selfish, don't you want him to be happy?” And you think: how can they miss it? While they were busy competing for ‘most totally ok’ you were patiently watching for signs of presence. Someone who can bear the way life and love actually feels. Whoever draws you in through that filter was already out of the game. And is watching you for the same. You don’t pull each other out of mainstream rotation, you find each other already on the outside wondering who you could love that will let you be. Who you could love that will make you more you. They see him outside now, they blame you. But that was not how he got so far away from their expectations. They tried to undo him, they made him. So, say it. Say boyfriend. Boyfriend is a miracle. Not the metaphor of a miracle they can patronize. A real one. The miracle of the inexhaustible awe of love. Say boyfriend, and let them come.

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