The Journey Home or how I learned to love myself via public transit

Photo by Peter Baker

I’m a sado-masochist with a thing for aversion therapy but even I wasn’t ready for this.
I didn’t grow up here.
I hadn’t cultivated the specific boundaries necessary to navigate the tunnels above and underground.

I don’t know if it’s my fatness or my blackness or some combination but people will stand rather than sit next to me.
I can sense their revulsion.
I can see them cut their eyes over at me. Hear them sigh in disgust as they walk past.

And me
folding myself so far into the glass, forcing my thighs together, every muscle taunt and trembling as I try to make myself as small as possible.

It’s impossible to pretend that I don’t see, don’t hear, don’t feel the paradoxical pain of being rendered both invisible and yet so horribly visible.
It’s dehumanizing.
It’s humiliating (which is not a personal kink I engage in btw).

It’s infuriating, especially when my final destination was often a stage where I would be taking my clothes off infront of 50 to a few hundred screaming people who look just like the ones treating me as if my fat black body is a contagious inconvenience.

I had to block it out.

I started reading in transit. It was in a particularly problematic self help book that I found my solution. In The Satanic Witch LaVey said something akin to your power lies in publicly being the most of what others expect. I’m saying it wrong but if people were treating me like I was repulsive I had to be so unrepently.

I did a complete 180. Instead of investing in my normal femme armoring I was lucky if I washed my face before I left the house.
I no longer apologized when someone sat next to me.
I went full honey badger and honey badger don’t give a shit.

One time after a particularly special week that had worn me out in several non consensal ways I threw a snood over my hair and slipped my painter’s frock over a black dress. I was makeup free but several parces removed from fresh faced and I fell asleep
I know my mouth was open
I could feel it
I snored
When I woke up some guy, some hot guy was staring at me but since Our Lady of the Blessed Honey Badger walked strongly with me that day I gave my best sneer and stumbled off the train.

As I stood at the gate searching my boobs for my card Mr Stares sauntered by and gives me the once over up and down appraisal.
I was ready
I had trained for this moment. But before the edge of my lip can curl over my left canine he says
without sarcasm
“Have a good day beautiful” He winks and heads up the escalator

Obviously we went to the same church
Something in that interaction shifted me. Not in a oh cute person thinks I’m cute and validated me. Thank you man saver way!
In a way it gave me space to see how silly I was being and how traumatized I had become from my past experinces of living in this body.

How I had let other people inform me on how I should feel in my body.

How this translated into how I let people even people I loved treat me in terrible ways.

I laugh cried about it for a week
I nearly restarted my live journal again
I did a lot of self love and boundary work.

The boundary work was important because even though people didn’t want to sit next to me they loved looooooved to touch my hair. I started keeping extra in my bag to toss at them. They were not amused.

It hasn’t been all hellfire though.

Once a holy man from another place took my hands in his and prophecised for me while his attendant translated his words into my ear
Once I met a woman who was escaping an abusive relationship. We had the same birthday. It was our birthday that day. I took her home that night and helped get her back to her mother.
Once I had a whole car to myself so I sang and danced around ran up and down the asiles and did everything I always wanted to do in there.

And once

This queer kid, this sweet kid with big brown eyes looked at me. You can tell they love their mother that their grandmother gave them that last slice of pie at every holiday dinner. You can tell that these women we brown and round and they see something of them in me in the 15 seconds it took me to push my way past all those bodies that didn’t want to touch me.

They look at me, their hand grazing mine. “Excuse me. You can have my seat”
“I’m fine”
I smile
They insist
I decline
And then they say it
It is always unexpectedly quiet in that moment. Like when the record cuts out at a party or that pause before something

significant

They say
So sincerely

“Sit. Please. You shouldn’t be standing. If you fall you’ll hurt the baby”

As I look at them over this wide expanse of flesh I am suddenly 12 and a strange old man has his hand on the core of me and is saying “ Damn girl When is the baby due?”
I am standing there and then, here and now 300 pounds with grown flashes of scarlet anger and a child’s flood of tears riding on a held breath.

I exhale

I exhale and I let my belly just swell to full
I put my hand compassionately on this part of myself that everyone sometimes myself included just hates and I do my best waddle walk to that fucking seat because standing on Bart or Muni at rush hour is sweaty monkey balls!

I take a seat
I take up space
I get to be here
I get to ride

I get to reach this destination
of coming home.

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