Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I was walking around feeling simultaneously cheerful and sorry for myself earlier. The sun was out and I had a sweater on and I had just visited a pawn shop across the street from where a lawnmower got stolen out of the bed of my friend's truck, to see if it had shown up there. It hadn't. And I'd walked outside and realized it was too sunny to have on the outfit I did, and so I indulged in some wonderfully grumpy first-world problem angst. Ugh, it's too hot. Poor me!
While walking and feeling way too hot for comfort, I found myself somehow suddenly swimming in analysis of my own fluidity. I switch. I code-switch, I gender-switch. I switch in the world around me and I switch in the bedroom. It's all a performance and I am a goddamn performer for sure. I step behind the bar at work and I am one version of me. I step into the kitchen at work and all of a sudden I am speaking boyspeak, throwing out phrases like "your mom," and laughing at the shittalk. A friend visits me and I am softened, remove the terry cloth towel from my belt loop and step out from behind the bar and hugs happen. And if a friend sits at the bar, conversations happen that don't happen otherwise in that place. We drop into movement-code, social justice-speak, and I get to say words like "oppression" and "genderqueer" and "industrial complex" without self-censoring. Sometimes at work, those of us who speak it, drop into Spanish. I switch.
I leave work. I switch. If I'm hanging with my dude friends who are like my brothers, I switch into another, kinder and funnier version of my boyspeak. If I'm hanging with my queer friends, there are a multitude of languages I could choose from, depending on the mix of folks. I could be using kinky shorthand or a combination of eyerolls and hand waves and incomplete sentences that are understood completely. I might call a cis-dude or a trans-dude "gurl," and everyone knows what I mean. If I'm with mostly POC, I speak one way. If I'm in a mostly white crowd, I switch.
I go to LA, I switch. In my parents' home, I hide the boy underwear as I do my laundry & pack heels if I know there will be a function to attend. I stay quiet. I speak "Fargilisi" and watch television and eat Trader Joe's ruffled potato chips with mast-o-khiar and my mom's ghormeh sabzi and maybe some Raffi's kabob.
I go to the airport, I switch. I sit on a plane and read The Economist (my favorite flight reading.) I land in Oakland, I switch.
I interact with men over transactions, and I nod and say, "Eh," and "Wsup." I interact with women, and depending on my outfit and my hair that day, there are a ton of different ways they speak to me, and my responses change accordingly. I interact with queers and genderqueers. I switch.
I leave the country? I switch. I come back, and I fall comfortably back into switching more often.
In every context, there is some different version of me that comes out. How else to interact with a world that expects me to be everything, everyone, and also expects me to fit into all different types of identities and norms? I refuse to accept a world in which I can not participate, in which there are slices that if I were to adhere to one thing or another, that my participation would be limited. I want to access everything, I want to float about and be who I want to be in all situations. I want to be my whole self, and my whole self is fragmented, always changing. So I bring my fragments, one by one, or sometimes overlapping, in ways that mean that I get what I want. That I get to determine who and how I am in the world and in relationship to whomever happens to be in front of me.
So I mix it up, dance an unchoreographed and spontaneous dance. There are rules on this stage, and I remain versatile so I can break and re-make them as I go, self-determine. I want it all, I want to be free. And so the only thing to do is switch, switch, switch.