blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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What Happened to You Happened to Me

In tenth grade, each day opened like a blade, and what happened to you happened to me, friends. Self’s borders were fluid; I couldn’t unbraid “I” from “we.”  My “we” were goth girls, my punk posse: we roamed the halls in a pack, smoked cigarettes at the train tracks behind the school, passing a smoke from lip to lip—one brown filter stained five shades of red.

And when Sarah told me she was assaulted in a gas station bathroom, I held her and cried. And when I saw “slut” scrawled across Ann’s locker, I slashed the tires of the asshole who did it. And when Kate snorted coke, I snorted coke, and we danced all night in a sea of strobe lights.

I first met Lucy in the summer of 2010, over a decade since I’d left my girlhood behind. While visiting my folks in Ohio—the same suburban Ohio I’d grown up in—Lucy came to me as I doodled in a doctor’s waiting room, and she came to me in the middle of the night, and she came to me at lunch time. That summer, she returned again and again. I’d never met anyone named Lucy—she was not a friend and she was certainly not I. Yet she was the most truly me I’d ever been in my poems.

Lucy is an amalgamation of me and my girlhood friends. A character I created, Lucy doesn’t bear the weight, the accountability of an “I.” She let me explore the scary truths of my Midwest adolescence, giving voice to a girlhood of slap bracelets and sisterhood, date rape and Pabst Blue Ribbon, of the one, and perhaps only, time in my life when what happened to you happened to me.  end

[Author’s Note: Names have been changed.]