though how to really own your shit would be to talk about this on your tumblr and talk about how you fucked up in the past and will try to fuck up less in the future.
Ways I have really fucked up (that I know about):
1. I misgendered an acquaintance when speaking to their then-partner. I was mortified, corrected myself, and tried to move on with the conversation. I was also wasted — these are not excuses, they are reminders to myself to be more careful under these conditions because it is my job to remain vigilant even if I am not sober.
2. I have misgendered customers who come into the coffee shop. Saying, “Hello, ladies!” when “Hello, folks!” would be sufficient and just as friendly. The lesson here is for me not to assume someone’s gender upon seeing them — case in point, my friend C, who has been amazing and forgiving of my idiotic assumption upon meeting him — I need to use less gendered language, too, and this is something I have improved upon in the past couple of years.
3. About three years ago when cleaning up a coffee shop I worked at, I said out loud to a co-worker that the owner should “hire some Mexicans to do this job right.” I was joking about our boss being unreasonable, but obviously that isn’t funny. It was one of the more fucked up things I have ever, ever uttered out loud. My co-worker at the time garnered an incredible amount of respect from me when she called my ass out and told me my statement was unacceptable to her. I apologized immediately — and then apologized and thanked her again about a year later. I am most ashamed of this one, I feel sick even typing it out. The fact that this shit came out of my mouth makes me want to hide under a rock and never come out again.
4. I am sure there have been one million transgressions I wasn’t aware of, and for those I am sorry too.
I hope to find more people like my co-worker mentioned in #3, and surround myself with them. I am grateful for the friends I have who do and will continue to call me out when I say or do something that is wrong. I am thankful to have found an online community which encourages me to keep learning, and illustrates to me when I have done something wrong (or even just tacitly supported wrongdoing). It’s an ongoing process. This is part of it.
Going through years-old photos, ticket stubs, letters, and notes gives a body a strange nostalgic weight. The reminder that you lived all that time and loved all those people has a physical remainder — these things. These things you are sorting, some of which will end up in a landfill, some of which will make art, some of which will go back into the box or tin to be rediscovered the next time you move (which will hopefully be never).
The tuft of cotton he forced me to pick alongside the highway the very first time I visited him in North Carolina. He goaded me get out of the car, run to the edge of the field, grab a tuft of someone’s ripe crop. And I did it because I’d never seen cotton in person before, not as anything other than clothing I purchased in a store. The tuft hung from my rearview mirror for the duration of our relationship, two more years. It stays.
The letters she wrote me when they were first starting to date, when she was borderline obsessed with my friendship and I was too insecure and alone to recognize her instability. She sounds manic in every single one. They go.
The Jump, Little Children burned CDs she sent me in 2003, along with a few letters she had accrued over the course of months. We’ll meet for the first time this year, when she comes to the east coast for grad school. It stays.
The pictures of my first love with our cockatiel, Sebastian. The last phone conversation we had was after Sebastian died; he wanted to know what year we’d gotten him, so he could calculate his age and decide whether he’d been a good bird-father. I Google his full name and try to find him in the internet white pages so I can mail the images without disturbing his new life. They go.