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  • Writer's pictureHaley

Can't Stop the Feelin'

“The body is hands and eyes”- an impermanent introduction to an intern

H-A-L-E-Y: happy, animal lover, leggings wearer, egg lover, yellow enthusiast

Maybe two of those things were true when my 2nd teacher forced us to create an acronym out of our names based on our interests and characteristics. We could’ve chosen anything to describe ourselves as long as it was school appropriate and started with a letter of our name.

I didn’t like assignments like that as a kid, as every stroke of the #2 pencil felt like a life long sentence to getting yellow cards and floral print leggings on my birthday. I just did what I wanted. And that often changed.

I did love eggs though (I guess?) but unfortunately this was first pointed out to me not by internal affirmations to the fact, but by glossy haired lanky kids at the lunch table when I brought boiled eggs to school left over from Easter for a couple days in a row.

I guess I was being bullied, as kids will choose the most asinine parts of you to pick on, but I didn’t even know it at the time- as I never gave much thought to who I was™️ or what I liked™️.

This didn’t change in the white, bright halls of Episcopalian high school, or the smoky, psychedelic dorms of undergrad.

Defining myself was some impossible task that I felt was taught on the one day of school i missed my kindergarten year.

Finding Hot Literati was no different- I wasn’t in an eat, pray, love journey to find community and I didn’t meticulously analyze each Instagram post to see if it “matched my vibe.” I hadn’t even read Dostoyevsky until at least Hailo’s fourth tik tok on the matter.

“The whole body is hands and eyes”

I read this quote in a 2021 issue of some Buddhist magazine called “Lion’s roar” that I last minute picked up from outside an atl buddhist temple.

This seemingly obvious concept- that the self is comprised of feeling, seeing and perceiving and you can’t stop it no matter how much you want to dunk your head in pixels and posts- blew. my. mind.

It put into words how I have felt my whole life- that my identity is transient- like a river instead of a rock. Forever flowing and rushing through whatever comes my way, without wondering if it’s on the H-A-L-E-Y brand.

American individualism was always hell for me. personality tests give me existential dread and if Spotify makes one more “for you” playlist of songs I played during a temporary spell of madness three years ago, I’m going to explode and create the Big Bang all over again (or for the first time-who even knows)

All I knew as a kid about eggs and fleece leggings and what I know now about literary fiction and playing Kirby in super smash brothers is that I felt it was right in that moment. It made me enjoy living.

Just like all I knew about Hot Literati when I stumbled across Hailo’s Tik Tok page back in 2023 is that when my body of hands and eyes reached forward, it was met with warmth, passion and unapologetic joy.

When I leaned in, my eyes saw my early 2000s bedroom colors of black and pink on the website.I felt the earnestness and creativity from each individual writer. My ears heard kind, bright eyed girls speaking about what ignites joy in them in that very moment. Smiling. Shining. And my hands for once felt real true joy when hitting the little “like.”

While I’m here this summer, I hope my joy is shared. My love is received. And I hope that when our readers’ bodies of hands and eyes reach forward as bodies inevitably do- without choice, without intention or for confirmation of a stagnant identity- they feel what I felt all those months ago.


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