“Hey are you ok”
I don’t know this man. He is roughly twenty years older than I am, his leather-sleeved football jacket billowing in the wind, his glasses non-tinted leaving his baffled eyes in full view for public investment in his emotion. I read discomfort in his eyes, in his pocketed hands (which I cannot see), in his bald head sweat pattern (which I cannot see because of his bucket hat), in his khaki-pant leg imprints, the suction of the breeze keeping his outfit tight against his old-man-walking-by-the-water-at-noon-on-a-Friday body.
I am crying. Sitting on a bench, staring at a dock far away, crying with controlled breath only because it happened to be a good time to cry. An overwhelming week has passed. A lot of people I love have appeared greater to me in the past bit of time which is always an intense element to being busy with friends but I am also busy with work. I am not only writing Kara but I am also writing two other plays and a novel, a total of eight characters across four different worlds, it is incredibly fun but it is busy. I came here, to the water, today, to cry. And he asks “Are you ok?”
WHAT IF I’M NOT, GUY? WHAT IF I JUST THREW A BODY IN THE WATER? WHAT IF I’M ABOUT TO THROW MY BODY IN THE WATER? WHAT WILL YOUR LACK OF EVERYTHING I NEED IN MY LIFE DO IF I AM NOT OK? YOU. ARE. OLD. DO YOU EVEN HAVE A PHONE?
He totally had a phone. He was on the phone. He was asking someone he knows if they are ok.
Some might say I’m defensive around men. For a good deal of my life, right up until maybe a year ago, I really avoided growing relationships with men. Growing up, the entirety of the sex talk I received began and ended with “boys want one thing. They want: one thing. One. Thing. One thing, ok? Boys just want one thing.”
It might be true that Boys want one thing but I was never told what Men want. If you’re a male reading this, here’s something to consider: We don’t all see the need for you. I mean that as tenderly as I can write it. I grew up with Boys either making fun of me or avoiding me so that they weren’t pressured into making fun of me (those were the sweet ones) but I never really learned the Need for a man. If you ask me if I’m ok and I don’t know you that well, I’ll probably assume you’re being advantageous. I’ll assume you only want one thing. My vulnerability has nothing to do with you and your speaking to me is an unexpected invasion.
I shed Kara today when I sat by the water. I’m trying very hard to find a way to become her instantly and then morph out of her instantly, as in what happens when actors wear a mask or when someone snorts cocaine (I’ve heard). Kara is a lot more protected than I am. I ran to the water, sat and cried. She would have got up and kept running the moment she felt like crying. I do not wish I did that. I believe there is wealth in allowing ourselves to be publicly vulnerable. In my work, I often ask a lot of the audience, mesmerizing them, hopefully, into an emotional investment in a vulnerable circumstance. Without understanding vulnerability, I can’t do what I want to do. Kara will make her audience feel vulnerable but she’ll do so because I understand the ease in which that can happen to an audience. She must remain protective over her ignorance in order to make the people watching her feel truly like leaving. The difference between the two of us is what we’re Willing to be.
We exist via our own Willingness to be. To be here, to be subjects, to be objects if that becomes necessary.
I understand why so many of us are unwilling to cry by the water. It’s in case a man appears and speaks to us (please allow for your own metaphorical parallels into your own lives). And so to the men, again, I suggest: We’re not waiting for you to appear. We’re not. I do spend time wondering if a man will walk through my window and smile the smile I’ve been waiting to know but that’s strict fantasy. If a man actually walked through my window smiling, I would throw a knife at him and let my dog chew on his bones.
To the women crying by the water: There’s no reason to forget that you’re needed somewhere else today. It’s beautiful to be vulnerable but it’s also a shame to be too vulnerable. I often forget that I have a purpose because I don’t really have an employed “purpose” other than what I choose to make myself do. That said, I don’t want to end up one day groveling at the feet of a man I truly think is despicable but can’t help surrender myself to because one day he asked me if I was ok and I thought, no and I thought, maybe I Need a man and I thought, this one. We don’t need you.
I am more than ok. The question “are you ok” is presumptuous and sometimes tempting. Crying is true pain relief. There is a hormonal mechanism which allows tears to flow from your eyes and there are all kinds of timeless explanations regarding the fact that we cry because we need to. It is a labial yell for relief. We all do it, men and women, regardless of working genitalia, it’s always a leftover dripping from the day we were born, the day we stopped crying because everyone needed us to shut up and be cute. It’s a labial yell because you should not suffocate it. It is labial because you’re fucking lucky I’m showing it to you.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
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