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  • Writer's pictureVictoria

Defining Love in a Rideshare

A quick note from Hailo:

I met two of the Hot Literati ‘24 writers at a show my mate put on for the debut of their EP. I was running late because I stopped at a bookstore to get a Jung book they were holding for me and I wanted to pick up flowers to give them, like I used to get in ballet. Bella Ve was already there. Victoria got there shortly after. I saw her through the window as she walked up. Even with a quick hello, I was taken with how present she seemed to be. The kind of person who can get lost in the dance.

The three of us shared a nice evening:

Here is Victoria's version of it:

A room with condensation made of desperate creativity is dressing the walls as if an orgy is taking place instead of a performance. There is a white spotlight on their sweaty backs, lighting them all up like gods. Suddenly I recognize no one, not to my right, not to my left. I only recognize the intoxicating smell of passionate love that is filling the room.

On a Friday night Cherry drove me to Bed-Stuy. We listened to a local radio station whose host had decided to spend the night discussing love: “Real love is… respect, like, and aiding their growth.”

I see Hailey in a furry hat and large camouflage shirt through the window. She has reddened lips and wide eyes. I watch her face and try to recall what she looks like online, but it is as if I’ve never known her online - she is brand new, right in front of me. Bella feels familiar. Maybe I met her once or another version of her or her evil twin or her younger sister. I recognize my brain in hers.

It has historically been hard for me to distinguish between romantic love and other forms. I have repeatedly come to and abandoned the conclusion that the only tangible distinction is sex, but I suppose this is just monogamy talking. Truthfully, sex is simply and ideally an intimacy shared between people that prioritizes pleasure and expression. It is the same intimacy I share in honest creative collaboration with others and as an audience member to passion projects and performances. A loving performer can give me the same orgasm as a loving sexual partner.

Real love is the undivided attention given to a poem-in-progress that you can’t get out of your head. It’s learning something new about a close friend through their chosen medium of self-expression. Real love is deeply relating to an author you found by accident. Real love is the comforting touch of familiar hands when you suddenly start crying while putting on mascara, and it’s returning a wave goodbye from those same hands twenty minutes later as you leave to meet Hailey and Bella.

We step outside. I look behind me as we walk to the corner and I see a small wall of windows drenched in sweat, alcohol, and smoke - how sad. How could anyone have any fun there? In the deli, Hailey says she wants to be like our big sister and she buys me a bottle of water. Eventually we entered the same way we exited and found our seats. By then I was ready for The End.

In the collection of Audre Lorde’s prose and poetry titled Your Silence Will not Protect You, there is a transcribed conversation/interview between Lorde and Adrienne Rich where Lorde recalls a past phone call. She quotes Rich’s words back to her: “It’s not enough to say to me that you intuit it.”

This follows a conversation about Lorde’s ‘Uses of the Erotic;” my bible(ish). Lorde explains to Rich how impactful and, in some ways, offensive it was to hear Rich dismiss her intuition in this way. She “felt a total wipeout of [her] modus, [her] way of perceiving and formulating.” For intuition to not be enough is as if it is not enough for a person to trust and understand themselves. Simultaneously, it allows that same person to deny others access to themselves. In this kind of relationship, each other’s pleasure is not prioritized equally to our own nor to creative expression. This might work semi-productively if you’re artistically asexual, but I wouldn’t know. I want an artist’s art to force my head back and eyes closed out of pure pleasure and disorientation.

They place a small notebook on the low wooden block in front of them – I am dying to know what was inside. I hope they will show me, pick me out from the crowd and deem me the appropriate reader. As they put on their mask I lost all understanding of this place. My heart pumps loudly to the beat of the music and excitement spreads through my fingers and toes.

Yet, I engage in this kind of unsatisfactory, ‘artistically asexual’ relationship everyday. I tend not to allow my voice to reverberate through speakers. I prefer the sound quality of my mind or my mother’s, or friends, lovers, and teachers. Most of all, I prefer the silence of paper, physical or digital. Perhaps I’m artistically autosexual, a self-involved, entirely internal writer. I am constantly battling between whether or not it is enough for me to intuit “it” – life, love, my experience and my thoughts. Sometimes I feel that this battle is the root of why I write, why I feel an entirely consuming urge to share what I write, and an equally consuming urge to keep it to myself. In this way I am not keeping up my end of the bargain; I am loving the performers but not allowing them to love me, like me, or aid in my growth.

I have never read my writing out loud for the sake of performing it, not even to myself. In attendance of events like “The Power of Self Belief” (where Cherry drove me that one Friday night) where I can witness performance for the purpose of self-realization, for sharing, for creating, and for living, my entire being comes into question. Am I a writer or am I just a thinker? Am I a poet who loves spoken word but doesn’t know it? Is it enough for me to intuit aloud? Do I want you to choke up with indistinguishable emotion and scream for release when you read my writing? How about when you hear my voice?

I will not know until I unsilence every corner of myself and listen to the sound of my own pleasure. Until I publicly recognize, whatever that means, that my most valuable knowledge comes from an intuition that stretches generations before me, deeper than simple sensation. I will not stop questioning my being until I’ve found the right words for each one of my thoughts and scream them out. And in this sense I will never stop questioning. But, I will stop questioning in silence, because it is more fun for the both of us.

The final performance begins.


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