I look at him, and he’s not a prince. He’s minor a handsome savior. He’s just a man.

He’s just a man, and he’s not going to save me.

I must admit, I am disappointed. I spent most of my life wanting to be saved. Assuming I would be. If I performed femininity correctly ie if I was the right kind of girl.

I’m disappointed in myself, too. I’m never going to be able to save him either.

I would if I could. Haven’t I been trying? To render the threat I represent obsolete? To destroy this threat that is my body?

Haven’t I been in self-destruct mode, since the day I met him? To save him, perhaps. And to tear out the part of myself that is the part that wants him desperately?

It turns out it won’t work. It turns out it is lodged pretty deep in there. Womb, voice, red-beating heart. What is a girl without all those things that make her who she is?

He’s just a boy, like any other boy. Surprisingly human up close. Big ears and less hair and gawky still, and his stomach hurts him. But he’s mine.

He’s mine, so imperfections become vulnerabilities become ways in. He’s mine, so every way that he’s vulnerable becomes another way that he needs me. I need him so much. I need him to need me too.

For boys, perhaps, everything becomes a performance sooner or later. Sex. Affection. A thing you do to try to save your own life from other boys. A thing that is about measuring up to some supposedly universal standard of perfection, and stripped of joy. Pleasure as competition.

I am pretty shell pink and open wide as the sea. I wonder where I fit into that paradigm. I am filled up with wanting someone who isn’t here. I am an ocean of wisdom I have learned from being alone and from meeting this world on its own terms. I am at peace.

At least, at peace until I met him. You are not supposed to tell a person “I decided to get married the day I met you, hope that’s all right with you.” It’s gauche.

I should have said too much, instead of too little, I suppose. It would have been kinder.

I wasn’t ready for him when he got here. I had given up hoping. I had grown up alone, and grown older, and sad. The birds sing outside my window, but they are like the mermaids, they do not sing for me.

I will tell the mermaids’ story. But I would like to be loved along the way. And to love.

We are all mirrors of each other. I see my imperfections in his eyes, too. Am filled with grief for becoming a person I barely recognize, and shame. Am sure he sees my crashing flaws but cannot love them as I do his. He can do better. Better than me.

For girls, affection is a performance. A dance with steps clearly articulated in Seventeen magazine. And there is always some girl out there who does it better.

Not because she loves him more than me. But because she is more practiced in the dance of loving boys. I don’t know what I’m doing.

I figured I should back off, and let her do it. I figured it is too late for me to learn. I figured he wouldn’t miss me.

Me, I can’t fill the spaces inside my life or body with someone else. Me, I am so angry with him for not fucking me, I could scream. Me, I don’t understand, I cannot explain to my soul, why I am not worthy. I thought I was loving him by leaving him alone. It’s how I was taught to love.

It’s what I was taught about myself. That love belongs to the blonde girls whose prettiness is a function of a world set up to keep them safe. To take care of them.

For the rest of us, born into a racist society that thinks otherness is ugliness, well. We are disposable. We learn we are disposable.

We learn to treat ourselves as though we are disposable, too.

We disappear, bit by bit. And nobody comes looking for us.

I’m not trauma girl and I’m not crazy. But they broke me so they wouldn’t break her. They broke me, and they protected her.

And now I’m broken, and blamed for not being good enough at being a girl to stay whole. But I never was going to be. Not in this body. I didn’t do anything wrong except be born. It’s not my fault.

You’d think knowing that would help.

It does not.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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