I’m watching this play. I am sitting next to my best friends boyfriend and I am watching this play. I’ve been hearing about this piece for months. My best friend directed this piece. She has warned me. I know it is hard. I know it will be hard.
So I am watching this play and I have all my walls up. It’s been a long week–I’ve been fighting all week. I am tired, I am angry, I woke up this morning fell out of bed and mumbled something along the lines of “Smashsmash….smash…patriarchy…smash….” One of my other best friends has been texting me jokes about me being The Hulk because I’ve been smashing The Patriarchy. The texts are helping. The people who’ve reached out to me since I was accosted twice last week are helping. Smash patriarchy. Smash smash.
But here I am. And I am watching this play. And I am trying not to feel things. Because goddamnit; I am starting to despair.
At a very specific point, 3/4’s of the way through, I lose control. I am usually very affectionate. I am usually very social. And there are so many people in this audience that I know and love and for once, I do not want to talk to them. I do not want them to touch me. Hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez. 20 years of abuse in a storefront theatre in Chicago. A meager 6 months for 3 convictions of sexual assault for a rapist in Stanford. What can I do? I mean…honestly…what can I do? Because I feel so, desperately, totally useless.
The play ends. My best friend’s boyfriend turns to me. I have been crying for a full 15 minutes. “Are you ok?” he asks.
“I mean, like, no?” I reply. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. No. Not really.”
I hide in the ladies room for two minutes. I count 120 seconds with my back against the wall. I count the the two minutes. This is how I usually handle my panic attacks. I think this is a panic attack. But it’s not. It’s just despair. And my tricks don’t work.
I get on my bike. I start riding to a different theater to see a piece that I am just so determined to see. I have this thought halfway down Broadway. This thought that goes, “Couling. You should stop biking. You are in no condition to bike. You are triggered. You are crying. You should stop biking.” And by the time I get to the end of this thought. I get doored.
So I’m flying through the air. And I think….well…this is the last thing I do. This is the last week I have. This is the last work I do. These are the last debates I engage in. And I start to feel kind of, weirdly…a little better. I mean. At least the last fight I fight is a good one.
I do a shoulder roll. (And I think to myself, “Yup, still got it, knew those years of stage combat would pay off”) I roll under an SUV. The guy who doored me rushes out to help me up. I stop him, because I know what happens when you try to rush these things. I do a mental analysis of my body. I slowly stand up.
The poor gent who doored me is actually very nice. We’ve met before. He’s a chef at a restaurant that my company has collaborated with on events. He helps me inside his restaurant. He brings out his first aid kit. I patch up. We exchange information. And I get back on my bike. I am pretty calm. I have been Bruce Bannered via being doored.
I get back on my bike, and start to head north.
And then, this group of twenty something white men ride past me (also biking) and they shout, “Hey cutie!”/”Yeah Baby–go ahead and bike in that short skirt”/”Mmhmm, look at those legs.”
I turn my bike around. Because in the scope of things I may be pretty useless. I may not be able to change the world in the big way I want to. But I can show these fellas what happens when you catcall a Feminist.
“Hey!” I shout, “Yeah, you! The motherfuckers on the bikes! You got something to say to me, you say it to my face.”
I follow them for a block.
Cause you don’t want to make me angry.
You wouldn’t like me.
When I’m angry.