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#michaelswalk week one: some wounds are ungovernable

ham sandwich in hand, hair still dripping down the back of a tee my father gifted me, the moon is full, I’m safe in bed in LA and suddenly a week of this incredible journey is complete. I feel like I’ve been white-knuckled, 8000 km/h launch speed and we’ve finally reached a calm – though I have to concede there are cracks showing in the protective glass around me that I’d hoped might prove indestructible. the themes for the journey ahead are starting to emerge in the stuff that has been hard to swallow. the three of us have all recognised how truly vulnerable a scenario we’ve surrendered ourselves to – there is a vast difference between knowing something logically, verbally and knowing it bodily, internally, inescapably. face pressed against the mirrored glass.

I’ve been offered some, shall we say, assessments of my character over the course of the past few years – searingly accurate – that I have an addictive personality, that I have anxious attachment style, and recently that I am a çontrol freak. I consider myself a flexible human, but I’m realising that comes from having very strict discipline over my emotional state and assessment of the situations I’m in. here, everything is available, America being the land of plenty and possibility. my grip on myself is not so easily held when all is so unfamiliar, so open to forces beyond my control. my self-care has been slipping, and I’m getting a look at the wounds I’ve been managing, but not necessarily healing. so I’m committing to a fresh start tomorrow, taking the manic and the pixie out of the girl and leaving the dream we three have shared and are bringing out of clouds into life.

before you start frantically messaging me if I’m ok, please don’t misinterpret the picture I’m only just beginning to paint. My companions have me in their sights and their caring embraces. they can see me coming from a mile off when it comes to my disturbances and my adjustments to this unique experiencing of life.

if you’ve somehow managed to miss it, myself and two treasured friends are one-ninth into a two-month road trip around America, a creative pilgrimage to crystallise our reflections on relationships, trauma, and the power of music to process and progress from the good and bad. we are particularly connected to one artist of which we are all acolytes – Tori Amos – whose album ‘Scarlet’s Walk’ has leant its bones to our map. Full scoop at the link below:

Michael’s Walk

we arrived in San Francisco and I was instantly rocked by the sensation of queer history being filtered through those in our community we’ve lost in the shuffle of rights being won by those who can afford to benefit from them. the three of us are people living in protest, navigating our (largely invisible) challenges connecting to community. I took the chance to strip off and stand naked on the Castro, in euphoria and fury, to connect to my trans sisters whose bodies are being policed, ridiculed, wrongfully accused and destroyed. that power had to be in amongst the strolling jockstraps and harnesses.

in stark contrast, we travelled up to Yosemite national park for a night, and I cannot describe what a tonic that was. I genuinely believe it is the bare landscapes that are going to be most potent for us all. there is where we’ll find the pushes to our limits and the sincerest need for banding together. to feel such awe, at these – they almost looked like sets! – glorious natural artworks, grounded me so much into what I’m seeking here: complete presence in a different microcosm and a telescopic perspective of what home has been and what it must become when I return. it was before these incredible mountains and woodlands I became critically aware of how empty I had become, how blank and desensitized I was to my emotive sensors. I felt so much, but through a strange membrane. being so closed will not bring me closure.

What followed in San Diego and Las Vegas was an embarrassing misinterpretation of what would break through that membrane, but a very real response to the messages the darker side of this magnificent country is plaguing me with. attempts to access casual sex and participate in the capitalist accumulation of tokens have been unsuccessful and gambled far too much of whatever it is I have left to nurture my heart and spirit. Gambling too much in Vegas? Groundbreaking. I will not merchandise myself this way – it’s making me someone I don’t like.

An astrologer I adore told me my wound lay in the sign of Scorpio. I see that clearer now more than ever. When I feel threatened or vulnerable I’m best left alone, else I can sting. My relationship with anger is not healthy, my relationship with that sexual passion side even less so. Maybe now is my chance to get acquainted. To begin a process of completion.

What has been a shining beacon in the midst of all this is our Tori shows together. We managed to swing Michael and Teague an upgrade at the first show in Oakland, where so many moments spoke to Michael so directly. It was at this time, that part of me that feels a peace in departure took hold. The Irish Exit, the French Goodbye, the end of Act 1. Retreat is an important part of who I am and how I show self-care. Songs like ‘Girl Disappearing’ and ‘Girl’ were such precious reminders of how risen in my womanhood I’ve become, but what steps have I missed? What needs retracing? Or is it better to only look forward? The songs played that night also served to posit the three of us in place – songs like ‘Past the Mission’, Russia’, ‘Little Amsterdam’, ‘Juarez’ all speak to the political, even violent, zeitgeist we’re seeking safe passage through. In San Diego, we were all together and could connect and separate as needed. ‘Strange’ and ‘Tear In Your Hand’ were particular punctuations of my pain, but Tori’s holding of space and healing of voice went a long way to pave the way for me to paint the rest of the recovery by numbers. Not to mention the ‘gay x 11’ edition of ‘Take to the Sky’- a song I pashed a boy to last time I was here.

Needless to say, this trip has already become far more than even I’d given credit for. So caught up in what it took to make happen, I’ve come into the living of it very unprepared, which has got my tail up I admit, and I apologise. Trouble is, this is the ‘through’ of it I cannot avoid, that I must witness and set about repairing, building better coping mechanisms than by practice, practice, practice.

we have four days here in Los Angeles before Michael’s Walk commences in earnest. I imagine the next digest will be sent from somewhere between New Mexico and Texas. The last Tori shows, a cheeky look at Palm Springs and communion with the Grand Canyon. see you then x

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