We're listening to Nina Simone.
"Americans are obsessed with being the heroes of their own stories. We can't even imagine what it would be like to be nothing, to feel like the speck of dirt that we are. No one else in the world seems to have this obsession with triumphing over something. It's so.. puerile (she loves using that word, and she always pauses for a second before she utters it, never sure how exactly to say it... poo-err-isle.. pwer-isle). What is wrong with them?"
She still uses "them" like through language we can speak away our complicity.
I always knew it would be like this. She would be just like this. We'd be peeling mangoes with our finger nails and listening to Nina Simone, and there would be tea that came to a boil on an open flame. We'd philosophize about American self-mythology with an awareness that critique doesn't grant absolution, and she would pause before she said words like puerile.
I used to do this exercise where I would ask people to close their eyes, and imagine their utopia. What does it smell like? What does it feel like? Who's around you?
In my utopia there were never any men. I had done the exercise about 30 times before I realized it, though. It made me feel strong, a little proud and then instantly not those things.
"Sometimes I think my womb is poisoned.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean. I mean… that I think about raising kids. I think about marrying a dude with kids. I think about loving these kids, how much fun it would be too see them grow up. I think about caressing their faces, and hugging them. I think of making them tea sometimes and grilled cheese sandwiches. I think about my heart being filled up with love, but in my fantasy they are never mine. They are someone else’s. I ask myself ‘do you mind raising kids?’ and the answer is no. And I ask myself ‘would you mind marrying someone with kids or dating someone with kids?” and the answer is no. And then I ask myself ‘do you want to have kids?’ and the answer is no.
And I mean it’s possible that ‘not minding’ having kids or raising kids is different from ‘wanting’ those things, but I’d actually like those things, just not my own kids. And when I ask myself why, where’s the gap between that want and my body, the answer that comes out is that that something about me is tainted, that something about us – my family – is wrong and it shouldn’t go on like this.”
“My grandmother told me her dad died of sadness. Do you think that’s possible?”
“Sure, but it was probably like one of those bible stories.”
“What do you mean one of those bible stories?”
“Like when someone is telling you a story about one thing but it’s really a story about another thing, like how lambs represent humans and innocence and snakes represent dicks and apples represent lust or pussy or whatever.”
She's smug. Her capacity for a good turn of phrase is endless.
"I'm pretty sure your womb isn't tainted or whatever. Maybe you just like kids. Maybe you just particularly like other people's kids. That doesn't have to mean something's wrong with you - or your lady business area."
The strings of the mango are in my teeth. That's the problem with biting the mango rather than cutting it up. It gets stuck, but it tastes better this way.
"My friend says that my womb is 'occupied' by like my colonial ghost baby. Do you think you can be pregnant with a ghost baby?"
"Do you think I am pregnant with, like, Christopher Columbus' ghost baby?"
"I guess that would explain a lot."
ABOUT THE BOOK
I release a new chapter a week on Thursdays - unless I'm exceedingly overwhelmed or whatever I write is so epically terrible I'm too embarrassed to put it on the internet.