The freedom to do what? What am I living for? What is the dream that I was told to live? Where is its conscious? What does this dream sacrifice? The reality or the possibility? The thrill or the complacency? What could this dream mean? That I am more worthy than others who dream? That my dreams are more deserving? That I am the reason that this dream exists? What was the originating wish? To do more than this? What were we aiming to accomplish? To release ourselves from oppression? Or to inflict it on other humans? Where were we going with this? To have a new beginning? Or to ruin what we’ve taken? Who can claim that it is a dream we are living? Who can say that we have accomplished what set out to do? Who is looking on with approval? Who can say that they followed through? Who found the answers we were always looking for? Who can look past the destruction? Who is proud of what we’ve done? Where is the collective we’ve been serving? What are they doing? Are they living the dream? Did we give them a reason to continue believing? Did we provide nurturing? What is missing still? Why is freedom not felt? Where are the rights we were fighting for? Did we achieve what we set out to reach? Have we defined freedom? Do other countries look at us for guidance? Are they envious? Do they also see what we’ve lost? Can we be leaders and oppressors? Can we expand our reach even further? Can we show others a way of living? One that is free? One that is hopeful? A dream that can be earned by everyone? What is this “American Dream”? Who is it serving? Where are its origins? Found in a desire to serve a community? Or born out of a hateful history? Is it about division? Or are we truly united as one? What are our intentions? To free the people? Or enslave them even further? What have we accomplished so far? What does this dream mean to me? Does it provide opportunity? Does it change that way I am living? Does it make me believe in something? Is it larger than myself? Or is it intended to only serve one? When will I know that I have achieved it? It is a feeling? Or does someone else declare my success? It is a state of living? Or will I one day be done? Is it something that I can add to my resume? Or does that defeat the point I am trying to convey? Where is the dream of my generation? Why are we still using the same language of our ancestors? What do we have in common with them anymore? Do our goals align with what we’ve experienced? Did those before us already ruin what we’ve been working towards? Does the dream even exist? Or have we been promised something that died off? Are we looking for something that develops a nation? Or something that will just save us from our own destruction? What am I looking for? A sign that I am successful? Extra money to burn? A status symbol? Who even dreams anymore?
It was not the fantasy that I expected. It was lacking something, stage lighting, or maybe a tone of respect. It was dirtier than I anticipated, darker in a way that was uncomfortable and yet did not hide anything. There was a salad bar for fifty cents, and a tap selection that was larger than the list at the brewery we just visited. It was not completely filled with men, but had a number of women, including me, taking in the unnatural scenery. I smiled reflexively, not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable, while I witnessed what some women do to earn money. I tried to put myself in their shoes, ten inches high with platforms and ties, and yet I could not see their motivation, what made them do this for a living. I imagined losing everything, becoming numb enough to dance slowly, lazily, across a pen, spread my legs for strange men, allow them to look deep into what defines me as a woman. I pictured a lack of self respect, paired with athleticism, spinning around a pole with a smile plastered on. It was the same steps over and over again, rotating stages every twenty minutes, the same moves, with the same amount of emotional distance, convincing strangers that they might have the chance to sleep with them. It was almost disgusting, but that language is degrading, and these women seem to have experienced much worse, this was just work, they have a distance put between them and the creepy men, they have some form of protection. They seemed to go as far as they wanted, crossed whatever lines I imagined were drawn, becoming more comfortable with the amount of money thrown at them. They honed in on the bills on the counter, coming over to say hello for just a dollar, staying longer if they liked the conversation or if more cash was placed on them, allowing it to be placed almost anywhere you wanted, as long as it didn’t touch their vagina. One of them played with my hair, asked me where I was from, had me shake my tits with her for fun. They were so human, so shamelessly bearing their bodies in front of me, but there was no real dancing, there was flirting more than anything, pretending to be interested in what everyone was saying, and bruising that I noticed across their bodies, and an unmistakable high in their distant eyes. The worst part was watching them collect their earnings, crawling around on their hands and knees, collecting their hard earned cash and stashing it in a purse they had to carry, moving from dancer, creator of fantasies, to custodian for a night’s earnings, to banker to security, walking away slowing, with a smile, and a pain in their eyes for what they have to do for a living.
Where did this depression come from? What am I doing? Why do I think that I have to change everything? I am tired of me. I am tired of this. I am fucking tired of being depressed. I claim a natural predisposition but do nothing to work against it. I claim to do everything to help myself, but face none of my demons. I claim to seek healing, but secretly pray for it to get the best of me. I want to be validated. I want confirmation that I am crazy. I want nothing more than to be someone else’s problem. Can you solve my depression? Can you give me a reason every day to continue living? Can you convince me that I am worth saving? What influences am I blaming now? Who holds the key to changing my life for the positive? When can I meet them? What can they share that I am missing? I am sick. This is unnatural. I am looking for so much more. Scouring my brain for the answer. This has gotten the best of me. I have no idea what direction I am facing. Or why I continue rhyming. I lost track of my writing. I am off pace with everything that once meant the world to me. I hate feeling this way. I would rather be manic in the other direction. I cannot imagine a life without depression. I don’t know why it still surprises me. I know that I can influence the way I am living. There is hope. I just don’t want to see it. There is an opportunity for healing. I just don’t want to initiate it. I am tired. Exhausted. There is no reason for this. I know I am missing. I can feel the depression. It starts in my stomach. Then travels up to my lungs. I am coughing up the hope that I once thought to hold. It moves through my veins. Controls my brain. It doesn’t allow me to eat. I feel irrational hate for everything. I want to hide. I am already tired of this method of healing. I want to vomit up everything. My body hates me. And I hate it. A fucked up version of a symbiotic relationship. All I am doing is watching the clock. Waiting for the timer to go off. To release me from exploring my own thoughts. I don’t like where this is going. I hate that I am prone to this. I am helpless. And lying to myself. I know how to resolve this. Just eat something. Just move your body. Just allow some form of release. Don’t overthink it. Just go to the store. Get the medicine. Open your mouth then just listen. Your phrasing is negative. Your tone is angry. You just need a break. This is understandable. You are assuming the worst. You are looking for an excuse to hate everything. You need to finally get counselling. Stop bitching. Stop complaining. Accept you are changing. Know this will take time. Go back to the basics. Walk your dog. Eat. Sleep. Don’t worry. Accept the struggle. Let it go. Drop what is not working. And be kind to yourself. You are living.
Ten years ago I lost my virginity. A moment that meant so much that it defined who you might turn out to be. Lose it early and you’re destined to be a slut. Don’t give it up and you are labelled the prude that no one lies about loving. Somewhere in the middle and you’re just following a trend. It used to be so important. I used to care about what others thought of it. I used to hide the fact that I had no prospects to sleep with. I was told it brought you value. That the action would change your reality. That is what I should really be experiencing. Natural, uninhibited, freedom. That is what I was supposed to be gaining. Experience, a purpose, one of life’s most important moments. I almost missed it, forgot what I was doing, started laughing in the midst of it. This is what sex is? The thrashing of two bodies without coordination? The sweat and mess? The practised noises? I thought there was more to this. Is it really that simple? And now what defines me? Ten years after the pivotal moment? How much sex I am having? Or the extremes that I am willing to reach? What provides my body with value? The positions that it can stretch into? Or the manipulation of it for the satisfaction of others? How are there still questions associated with this old news? Where is the person I was meant to share my body with? Will this practice ever get easier? I state that it is not what brings me value. I deny what I am told I have to do. I am not embracing my youth. I am wasting the body that I was given to use. I have no desire to compromise in my pursuit. Does this still make me a prude? Can I deny the rumours from high school? Or am I just now learning what to do? Am I no further than I was in my youth? Where is the stick to measure against? Can I prove my worth with sex? Am I missing something without it? Where can I sign up for a good experience? Can I have the satisfaction without the emotion? Can I practice detachment with another human? How is this serving me? A complex for a lack of it. Guilt for practised excessiveness. Fear that it will never be enough. A practice in being human. The willingness to make a connection. Is it still needed with modern technology? Can it happen naturally? Or does it always have to be a pursuit? Is it the only sign of success in your youth? How do I still have questions about the most basic practice of being human?
What does a Smoker look like? Dishevelled and destroyed by life? What tipped you off that I wasn’t? Or that I would be offended by such an assumption? What makes you think that it is wrong? Is it the cough that resonates down the hall? Or the color of a smoker’s work collar? What is it that bothers you? The fact that I can choose to kill myself slowly? Or the reasons that drive this habit of escaping? What could you have meant with that statement? I don’t look like someone who knows hard work? I am not someone who would be so irresponsible? I don’t look like a low grade human? What do you assume I require for functioning? What is my assumed form of release? Could I be a singer? A dancer? An artist that refrains from temptations that could destroy me? Or do I fit in another place? An office with no windows? A boardroom filled with suits? An exclusive gathering of only what is prescribed as good? What is the vision you have for my future? To live long and prosper? To experience the dreams that others always wanted? To be someone who is defined as successful? To use my life for so much more than another smoke on the back porch? What do you see that I can’t? Or are my secrets too well kept? Am I lying to myself with this image? Should I have corrected your assumption? Should I have claimed that I am dirty and broken? Should I have shared a smoke with you instead? Allowed you in? Showed how I am struggling? What makes you assume that I am different? That I have higher standards for living? What makes you think that I am naturally complete? Or am I assuming that this trait means more to you than it does to me? Do I only see value in the habits that destroy me? Do I only focus on the traits that I am told need changing? Who is my smoking for? You or the thoughts that I have to think over? Me or the image that is projected on this habit? To damage my health or find a release for all that I’ve felt? Who is it serving? Me or the rest of society? Am I finding release or captivity? Denial or severity? What am I doing? Do you know me? Can you change me? What would make me complete? Do you have the answer? Can you know better? Can you tell me that I will be successful? That this life is worth living longer? That if I put down the smoke I could pick up a life worth exploring? What makes you so certain? Or are you bluffing? Is this a distraction technique? Where you only seeking to flatter me? It is not working.