variations on a trench coat: bruises & W1L 011: Write one leaf about your hero.

I am wearing bruise colors again, except this time I feel closer to shiny-happy than angry, and I am thinking of the Chairlift song, which is why I call this variation on a trench coat...

Variation VIII: I tried to do handstands for you.

Blue sweater: gift, Old Navy. Trench coat: mother's, FoxRun. Belt sash thing: lying in the closet. Tights: generic. Purple socks: Forever21. Saddle shoes: Payless. Ring: Rapunzelsgold on etsy.

"Bruises" always makes me think of the epigraph to The Great Gatsby, though.
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!"
Speaking of bouncing high, let me make a fool of myself by crying, HUGOOOOOOOO! Oh, how I've missed you.

W1L 011: Write one leaf about your hero.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE #3: Don't use lists.
These personal challenges are going to be out of order because I wanted to keep some of my old prompt-challenge pairs. For reference, my original response to this prompt was about Gala Darling and college, job security, and risk-taking.

When I first responded to this prompt about a year ago, I made a list of people I might call personal heroes. They were all women, which leads me to wonder if I should be alarmed by the fact that the list off the top of my head includes exactly no people of my sex.

The list, in fact, includes no people who actually exist, because the list consists of two fictional men.

Both became my heroes as soon as we met. One was eleven. His name was Harry Potter. The other was nine hundred and seven. And his name was the Doctor.

It doesn’t matter to me that these heroes aren’t people I could ever reach out and touch the way I could (theoretically) reach out and touch Gala Darling, whom I wrote about last time I answered this prompt. While I still deeply respect the work she does, she’s always been an aspirational personality to me, someone I could try to be like, try to reach for (metaphorically, although I guess “literally” would be relevant to apply here too), could try to copy, to emulate, to copulate. Something to aspire to.

And I’m like, fuck aspiration. Fuck it. When you’ve been kicked down and you’re hunched over in the gutter feeling your kidneys jostle together like subway riders simultaneously pushing bicycles and holding guitar cases, aspiration is the last goddamn thing you’re thinking about.

Yes, I’m happy to fictionalize actors and actresses into golden celebrities with flawless looks and flawless personalities. I will gladly abuse the phrase “to me, you are perfect” when it comes to Andrew Garfield’s hair or Carey Mulligan’s dimples, but not when my lunch and breakfast are tripping over each other to climb out of my mouth first. I don’t want to stare into a pure white light when I feel broken; I want to see the darkness and know that it can coexist with the light, that it’s possible to have both, to be both. I need to know that I’m not alone, and that there is at least as much good in me and my life as there is bad.

Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan are as talented and well-spoken as they are beautiful, but they don’t matter to me because I can’t see myself reflected in them. Sure, I can see myself in their Tommy and Kathy, but not in them. They are celebrities, and I will probably only ever know them as celebrities, shiny wares to display on a very tall pedestal. Kathy and Tommy, though, they’re people, things with human being feelings, life-sized things that die.

True, Harry's the Boy Who Lived, and the Doctor regenerates whenever he’s close to death, so he doesn’t really die. But he killed off his entire race and ran off with a stolen (sexy) time-and-space machine, and he sure isn’t shiny. Harry isn’t shiny. Harry throws Dumbledore’s shiny things around his office in a temper tantrum and yells at his best friends. Sometimes he’s afraid he can’t live up to everyone’s expectations, and sometimes he cries. Maybe the tears make him shiny, but aside from that, there are plenty of times when Harry is just as ugly and moody as any other teenage boy, and there are plenty of times when the Doctor is just as cowardly and pompous as any other clever person who misses the way things used to be.

These are the heroes I need, these broken, hardened men who still let so much softness and kindness grow in them after everything they’ve seen. They have touched death and hate and pain and still they are full of love, like stars winking in the night.

Their light and their darkness, as one.
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