Michelle Tea, as seen by formento+formento
WELL IT’S A text message actually, and it starts with the word darlin’ and the person who sent it is authentically Southern so it’s not affected, it’s a real darlin’ and to have hung a g on the end would have made it something else entirely, British or at least New England, from a class I’m not well acquainted with. Just the darlin’ was enough to—you know when you get a text message like that, it’s like your phone turns electric and the charge surges through you, making you think of charts you’ve seen of the nervous system, how it looks like a sprawling tree inside your body and now mine has just grown leaves. It’s springtime in here and all my chakras are spinning. In the back of the car where I receive this text, with Arizona blurring dryly outside the window, I tell my travel companions about the text and about my chakras spinning and they have never felt their chakras spinning. The soles of my feet are hot like right before you come, and to sit atop myself is torturous and wonderful. My stomach is a whorl, a tumbling spiral, and my heart feels like a gorgeous sinkhole, collapsing onto itself, and I can feel it even in my throat, and my third eye tickles so bad I can’t wear my sunglasses. We’re listening to Katy Perry. Who I didn’t know I liked but in a state like this, holding the word darlin’ glowing in my palm, I get it, everything is alive with meaning: let you put your hands on me in my skintight jeans—oh my god I was wearing skintight jeans and he put his hands on me and now I feel like a Teenage Dream! My heart stops when you look at me. Something is happening to me and it involves those hands and that look and my chakras and Katy Perry. The good thing about a text is that it is self-replicating, a virus, infectious, patty-cakes. I will press my fingers to the phone and he will feel something, and then I will get another darlin’ and feel the top of my head come undone. Yes. I have this story in my pocket and I’m not writing it alone, I can pull it out whenever I need to feed my longing, the words singe my nerves and I’m a fuse, blown.
Michelle Tea is the author of four memoirs, a collection of poetry, and the novel Rose of No Man’s Land, and she has edited anthologies on class, fashion, fiction, and personal narratives. She is also the founder of RADAR Production, a literary organization that produces a monthly performance series in San Francisco, the international tour Sister Spit, and the Radar LAB writers’ retreat in Mexico.
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