this is the zombie apocalypse




Did you think it was the opening ceremony of a national scrapbooking festival? 

Did you think we’d watch Clueless in cat pajamas and make new-baby noises as we looked at photos of ex-boyfriends who showed naked pictures of us to all of our friends and then said, “I don’t know what you’re so upset about. You look like a porn star.”

awwwwwww

good times


Did you think this would be a cheerful errand we could accompany with a Shonda-based binge-watch?


Did you think that our public declarations of our private wounds would be like cleaning out the spice cupboard: something we put off for a day we were sick enough not to go to work, but not so sick we needed to sleep all day?

We didn’t peel open our wounds because we had pink eye and had already watched The Price is Right.

We didn’t air out our personal, embarrassing secrets like a sloppy linen closet, because one morning we barfed once and then took a nap and then felt pretty much fine the rest of the day.

This isn’t something we got around to.

Do you know what happened?

You think you do. You think that was the day it got scary for you to be a man. You think that was the day that women found power, because that was the day you felt certain some of your own went missing. You lost the power of your certain goodness. You patted your pockets. Something's missing. Someone must have taken it.

But that was the day that we brought back our monsters from the dead. That was the day we exhumed the bodies. 

We had decided long ago we’d let them rot, even if they killed the grass and fouled the water. Nobody wanted to unearth them. For fuck’s sake, the smell will never come out of our hair. For fuck’s sake, it’s dead already. Let it go.

That was the day we realized, too late, that those monsters were not just broken bones that we could bring up and discard. They existed. They could still walk, talk, scratch on the windows and call through the door: But it’s so scary to be a man right now.

I can imagine why you’d want to go back to the dark.

It’s scary to be a man, you say, and it’s not that I think you’re lying but I still want to crucify you or at the very least stand in front of you crying and say the thing that keeps going round and round in my head like a ticker:

Do you think this is fun?

Do not mistake resolve for delight. 
We are here because we're needed; 
there are no hearts on this date in our calendars.

This is the zombie apocalypse. 
We are surrounded. 
And the day we said me too 
was the day we gave away our position.

All our dead neighbors and high school humiliators are back. We excavated them. They’re back and we can smell them again: the sweet, woodsy dust of the shed, the spicy deodorant smell on the shirt. I feel sick. I pick up a stick.

This is the zombie apocalypse.

Worse, this is the zombie apocalypse where we have to talk about how the zombies feel. And the zombies are like, “Oh my gosh you guys, it’s scary out here. I’m feeling really vulnerable. Remember when I was a little boy, like your little boy?”

I feel sick. I put down the stick.

Do you think this is fun?

You are still coming for us. It’s what you’ve always done.

And the worst part is that progress will be progress when we tip the scales, but as of right now we are still outnumbered. When I take a step out of the house it is a stupid leap of faith into certain attack and I’m scared of the air and I’m not having fun.

I read what people say about girls like me, what they write when they write things they’ll never have to watch other people read. You know every word you say can hurt someone, right? You know there is no such thing as a taken bite from my body that I won't miss. Right?

Apparently I left when I should have stayed. I stayed when I should have left. I should have tried to leave harder; they’re not mind-readers. I shouldn’t have tried to leave so hard; don’t forget men are beasts. Apparently, I have a bad case of buyer’s remorse. I feel sick.

But you’re scared and I believe you.

You’re scared to be a man.
You’re scared you might have done something long ago to discredit your character.
You’re scared of being punished for speaking.

Wow.

I mean, you hear it, right?

Can you look at me through the glass and recognize anything? 

I’m trying to do the same for you. Meet me. It’s not easy. 

I’ve been taught that zombies can’t be saved. Reconciliation is not part of the kill-or-be-killed narrative. I help zombies find redemption with a rock to the skull, typically. 

I’m laughing. I’m crying. My mouth is a tomb where things used to stay buried.

You say you’re scared as if you’re being hunted 
when the truth is we just refused to let you in. 

We just have to make sure you’re not here to eat us.
How can we be sure? How can we ever really know?


If I look satisfied when another flesh-eater falls, please know that what you're seeing is the joy of prey that's been given a stay.  I am glad to be armed, for the first time in numbers. Yes, I am happy to have the chance to fight for my life. I am gratified to be joined by capable killers.

But I'd rather have no reason for slaughter.

It’s a scary time to be a man, you say, and I believe you.
I can imagine how it feels 
to be dragged out of a dark bed into the light.

I can imagine. I have kids. I can imagine. I was born.

My husband leaves for work before the sun comes up. Sometimes he opens the bathroom door and a blade of light slices my pillow. I am not like: 



I am not grateful at 5 am. So I think I can imagine how it feels to receive, too late, the gift of understanding. You were already comfortable. Why did we turn on the lights? (Because we were dying, sorry if that was rude.)

It can't feel fair to find out that what you thought was biology was really surgery. It was so dark, how could you know? You took things from people. You didn't need those things, but they did. Their absence changed the way those people walked, talked, smiled, cried, loved.

You didn't know you took mementos. You didn't know you left things behind that grew red and hot and insistent as we tried to ignore them. I can imagine that you didn't know. I can imagine your shame.

It must pit your stomach to understand, too late, how scary you have been. You want the lights off again.

I'm ready to hear you say
you understand that you were scary. 

Don't you dare tell me you're scared.


I can imagine why you're scared. I was born into too much light, too. It must have been awful. I’m glad I don’t remember it. 

But hear me. The thing I didn’t understand until I was the one giving birth is that the child is not the only one screaming.


I can imagine how you feel, suddenly, unwillingly born.
Can you imagine how I feel, suddenly split apart again?

I am trying not to remain here,
blaming you completely
for carving a path through our bodies
before we said
in just the right way
HEY
STOP
THAT HURTS.

Because what just-born child looks back
and notices how much he broke along his way?
How much will never be the same
because he passed through?

I am trying not to blame you completely. I still blame you completely. 

But I can also imagine how you feel, suddenly born. Can you imagine how I feel, suddenly split apart again?

Or look at it another way.

Wake the fuck up.



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