Trying to Write About Having a Body

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But I can’t figure out how to verbalize what I need to say.

The conflict (one of them): performative act of inhabiting a body. Shape-shifting to what people need of you when they need it: I see myself here, and then fulfilling the role I want someone else to play for me, and being unable to return. Every day some kind of out of body experience; my hand is in the flame at the same time I am buried in the dirt.

I can’t conceptualize my body problem because we cannot function without the body. It has to do with control, but we really don’t have much control over our bodies at all. Hell, we don’t even decide always what goes into them, and the closest way to do have control that I have found is via restriction. There’s a moment in “Hamlet” where he might as well be singing Radiohead: “I want a perfect body / I wanna have control.” And why bring up the manic pixie dream girl?

What function have I been asked to play most? I only don’t feel the weight of myself while driving alone at night. It’s active participation in the physical, but I don’t perform to drive. I do it. All interactions with others always make me feel othered. I don’t know if it comes naturally to them and don’t care. It’s perfomative, whatever I do with my body. This isn’t expressing it right but:

You get stopped enough by enough people who need to tell you whatever about your body. It becomes geography for strangers’ conversations. You ache every day & are not permitted the complaint. You smile, adjust, agree. And act like you like it. The body in conversation is fake. You planted the real one years ago under a forsythia bush with your first kiss. And the mania makes you less human more whatever this fake you is, but thank God it’s something. You agree: sure, you love the Shins.

In a car you can drink commercial coffee instead of some single-origin organic blend, can listen to W-HJY instead of NPR or college radio stations, and don’t have to live up to whatever performance you do when you step back onto concrete. I am so tired, always, of owning a body, and not knowing how to slough it off.

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Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

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