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On being loved and in love with everyone. An autofiction.

When I was born, my mother didn’t want her placenta thrown into the river like our culture traditionally did, but my father and the agreeing midwife annoyed her into consenting. So, leaving her to ache and sleep, he went down to the river and hurled it in. To be carried downstream. Merge with the rest of the world. She wanted to be annoyed by the decision because it was her own placenta, from her own womb, but really she had the (presumably) more important product to worry about, which cried out for her from the moment it started its life, had since taken a sleep, then started again for a cycle of however long babies do that for. When my father got back from the river, he grinned and told her how a piece of herself and his child took their first adventure out into the world together. She cried. He didn’t know what he’d said wrong.

When I was still at breastfeeding age, I often went hungry because she couldn’t produce enough food for me, having low iron and blood pressure and probably depression. My mother slept easily and too much – even with me in her arms during a feed – but she would wake at any light touch, change in pressure, sound from the neighbours, jostling from me. She was pressured by her superstitious family not to give me milk formula, though she was the only one dealing with the consequences of No Formula. Her best friend at the time would mixed sugar and water and bottle-fed it to me so I would shut the fuck up. It worked for a decent enough time each day, before I started up again. 

I’m alive.

My later childhood was unmemorable enough, but my mother was there at that time, in the flesh, too. My father exited stage left, so she probably came up with smart ways to deal with my shit then as well. 

What I do remember: on the cusp of teenagehood she brought me to the doctor for every bruise and cut, saying it would make my body spend unnecessary energy on healing and not enough on growing. Also that I was to be perfect, cultivated, beautiful, because “I want you to be better than me” – no further instructions. And that she would pray for me and my everything, which I didn’t appreciate. We argued about God like an average family, but when my friend (bless her soul) in a preteen panic outed my queerness to her, she didn’t kick me out. There were, however, very loud phone calls about this problem.

I also remember my mother being sensitive and taking things way too personally, which is where I get it from. Her two-hour nights, her scraping money to get by, her distrust of my capabilities, her exclusion of me from her problems, all ate her time away and made her rightfully fucking mental. To this day, I don’t know if she knows what I enjoy doing or who I want to become. Though I can’t really claim neglect, because for her there was better shit to worry about.

I first fell in love with any person who would give me the attention I wanted. I think I still do sometimes. Someone who holds open a door and smiles or someone who listens to you in a group conversation. It’s a good fucking feeling.

I first properly fell in love with this guy who would hug everyone tighter than usual. An empty toothpaste hug, arms fully wrapped and squeezed like he was getting something out of you. He also laughed easily, was easily pissed off, would tell you he was pissed off, and was a year older than me at fourteen. He introduced me to Chet Baker though. That’s pretty good. 

A year or two later, I fell in love with this person who had a boyfriend. I think she was one of those Instagram activists. I don’t know if she actually volunteered at a shelter or anything like that, but they were quick to call someone out on shittiness; not necessarily on just politically correct semantics, but also genuine sleaziness. When her friend didn’t want to wear a condom with his partner, she called him out on it. If their parents were judging the drug addicts on television, she would chew their ears off. I think at one point she was assaulted, and they actually physically fought the guy off with a needle on the ground. They once asked me to come to a pride rally with them. I couldn’t go, but I fucking wanted to.

I met my partner, my high school sweetheart, four years ago, and I chose to be in love with them because I didn’t know how to naturally do it. They would not shut the fuck up about whatever game they were currently playing or the animal of the day. They were one of those students who absorbed the things they learned, not just for a test but for general knowledge too. When I ask what muscle they’re massaging, they can really tell me – nice, and is it tight, I ask, and they respond: not too much, maybe a little from stress. In the time we’ve been together we’ve literally, physiologically shaped each other's brains. We’ve developed together, muscle to muscle and neuron to neuron. 

I have my genius, amazing friends who do whatever they want. One went to live abroad with nothing but a one-way ticket, because that’s just who she is. Unfazed. Some of them have a band together and just create shit, good shit, delicious and nutritious. One’s on her Master’s degree. And my genius, amazing friends who don’t do whatever the fuck they want; I’m in love with them too. The business school girl; I can never remember her degree’s name, but she invests and knows how to make a fucking sale and works for what she wants. The sublime women I can only see every couple months because we’re all chasing different things. The ladies I stay back in the office with just to chitchat. I would marry them all, and I float in their rivers of love.

And people who talk with conviction. People who love the shit they do. People who help the state of the world. Men who are considerate and soft-spoken and women who scrawl notes in the novels they read. It’s overwhelming and sometimes debilitating; emotional intelligence is needed, critical thinking is needed, though I don’t really care for psychoanalysis. I think the brain is a continuum.

These days I can’t really talk to my mother about the things I want to, but we talk about enough. How it’s warm today and that she wants to retire in a tropical place. Small talk still matters; on a picnic rug, playing with a fallen baby leaf, poking the grass with a stick. I told her that I found out about the placenta from Dad and she told me her real intention was to eat it. It was a new thing back then. Wanted to see what it was like. Then she laughed and said maybe there would have been more milk for you, even though it doesn’t matter now, since I’m well fed enough…

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