On Hugging and Banksy : Part One

Me and my friend, Beth.

BEING THIS CLOSE used to only feel safe – for me – with a very few human beings. In the Before Times, I mean. Even then, I kept my distance. Diligently. And if I’ve ever let you get THIS CLOSE to me, then I’m fairly certain you know exactly what I mean. Then Mama Corona stepped in. She has helped out with so many things. Namely : the cultural expectation that I must feel cold for denying you title to my six feet. And also : seeing clearly : how much Joy – and dopamine – was once derived from the simple act of embrace by way of greeting. Plus too : how quickly I could feel my hugging muscles atrophy. And once somebody broke the seal, how I would live into the reality I have perpetuated of said perpetrator being dangerous for me.

“You can’t go back to holding hands,” is what my very first young lover said to me : when I expressed a desire to protect myself from the dizzying effects of adolescent intimacy. By pausing. And falling backward, ever so slightly. An attempt to erect a healthy boundary, at the tender age of 16. A valiant effort to regain my footing was met with the message he got from somebody, who then summarily implanted it in me : that it is All or No-thing, baby. Your Woman’s body is meant only to receive the after shocks of unmitigated, unregulated, unrestrained land – grabbing. And so I let him cleave to me. For all the right reasons. Hoping against hope that he would make good on his young promise to remain betrothed to me. To purchase the cow. Though he was indeed getting the milk for free. He did not. Of course. Purchase anything. That love affair lasted but a few short weeks.

And nearly 30 years later, I still have never married. Because it’s NFS actually. It’s more like graffiti. It’s a gift given to the community, under cover of night usually, but sometimes yes in the broad daylight. Just like a brazen hussy. Often tho, the landlord may not like what he sees, and pays somebody else to scrub the gilded lettering off the concrete. While Banksy’s mistresspiece remains untouched, peering out from underneath her plexiglass shield : representing the value we place upon things worth protecting. For fame. For shame. For re-production. For commodity. But have you noticed? It’s only underneath her own umbrella where it’s raining. 

A famous piece of graffiti in New Orleans, rumored to have been left there by Banksy

Try as we might, it’s often futile : our attempts at shielding ourselves from the inevitable. Banksy’s tag was tagged last week, about the same time my friend Beth and both her kids came down with COVID-19. Plus my heart has been broken about a million times since my first lover left me. Of Gods and Monsters : if that title wasn’t taken already, I’d use it to name something.

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