Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catching up

The place where I'm staying in Boston is incredible -- a one-bedroom apartment directly in Davis Square in Somerville, looking out over the trees with yellow leaves and flagpoles I won't look too closely at what flags are flying. 3 pm and the sun is already going down so I run outside to sit in the square and get some direct sunlight, but it doesn't quite work because the buildings are blocking so I sit on something that looks kind of like a sundial but it's cement, in an intersection and now I can see the sun it’s kind of idyllic here in this old town square with almost everything I would need right here I'm thinking if I ever move back to Boston I should live right here, right here in this square maybe I would ask Barb if there were any apartments in her building although wait they're probably all one-bedrooms so I couldn't afford it, but anyway I'm not moving back to Boston.

It's interesting, though, watching the high school kids interact and some of them are about to say something to me but they don't and Boston was definitely the place I lived where I experienced the most virulent on-the-street homophobia, harassment literally all the time every day every time I left the house there was someone screaming at me what's up with that shit what's up with that shit that shit is fucked up or something like that, I remember kids chasing me down the street with sticks in one neighborhood but that was kind of funny, someone else dropping a cement block out their window, and it crashing right in front of my friend Gabby and me as we walked home and that wasn't as funny, another time some guy stopped his baby stroller to start screaming right in our faces you fucking faggots what are you doing in my neighborhood?

Oh, we live here.

You walk on, maybe smile or blow kisses or stop to chat or laugh if you can manage or try to pretend you don't notice because that's what everyone else is doing except that means they’re participating in the violence whereas you're just trying to survive.

But anyway, I'm thinking that people don't seem to be staring in the same way here in Davis Square, maybe because it's a liberal enclave and not one of the pre-gentrification neighborhoods I lived in back in ‘94 and ‘95, and just as I'm thinking this there's a group of kids standing across the street looking at me and pointing and laughing and then I've already forgotten and I'm on the phone and this kid, awkward geeky white boy with braces and overgrown barbershop hair, maybe 12 years old at the most, he comes over and stands maybe 3 feet from me and yells are you gay? Yes, I say, and go back to my conversation, and he says eew, that's gross, and he’s standing and staring at me like I'm supposed to react and I'm talking on the phone and he says do you FUCK other guys? Yes, I say, and he makes all these faces and says eew, that’s gross that’s GROSS!

I'm on the phone, I say, and he says: with your boyfriend? And I laugh, because I'm on the phone with Barb, my wonderful host, who I've never met. And then this kid leaves but he keeps looking back like he can't believe it that I'm still sitting there, it seems like he's kind of in a rush, maybe to catch up with his friends.


Yasmin Nair said...

I'm amazed you dealt with those kids the way you did... I wouldn't have known what to do. Talk about grace under pressure.


mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yasmin, you know -- it started when I was like four years old so I've always known it pretty well, in some ways it got better once I was a self-actualized faggot because it felt like I could claim my defiance -- of course, there are moments of shock and horror, but I like that phrase: grace under pressure, I'll try to remember that.

Love --

Mark said...

There's some serious comedy in that story. I might have reacted the same way, but I also may have just asked him where his manners went. What's 'barbershop hair"?

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Manners would be a different angle, yes...

Oh -- in this case I mean a somewhat harshly angled cut meant to suggest a certain type of masculinity or lack of softness, where the cutting lines are visible but of course that's not the only type of barbershop hair...

Love --