by: Joe Varisco
I submit. I accept defeat. I have struggled and lost.
I will sit and feel the thumping of my chest, the heat flushing over my face and the tremble in my furrowing brow. The shadows of self-deprecation stretch long and pale any nearby light.
I am a product of so many generations repeating a cycle that seems impenetrable to time. My father told me that humans become most dangerous when they lose hope. I have hid under stairwells in the middle of the day, bent into the fetal position of safety, eyes closed, no sobs to savor a need for catharsis and let go of that last drop of hope. I count the paces in my head, 5, 10, 50, 100, 2000…the smallest distance between myself and the return of hope is just up ahead. I have walked those extra steps in my head, on the street, at a bar and found out just how much further I was to finding it again.
I let go. I abandon responsibility and become the things I fear most. Disavowed, I am the uncaring child of a dying world. I die too. I want to die. I want to delete, vaporize, cease and then it is over. It is all too dramatic. Silly boy, playing with words, playing with pity, playing with life.
And then I let go of even this.
I take that first big breath of a new body. A body that forgives itself. A body that can forgive again and again. All the layers slip off. All the filth and fear that is still staring back at me lifts away. It will come back, it always does. Little knick and scratch, teeth marks, blot stains keep the historical heritage of this turning and turning in time.
I walk through the door of my apartment and my cat that I never thought I would want is still there. He wants me to feed him. I do. I enter my room and fix the bed. I open the windows and take off my clothes and lay on the hardwood floors and the sun slips in through the curtain as it waltzes with the breeze. I feel my body against the ground and I am suddenly connected to every inconsequential gesture that all beginnings start with. I start again because that is what we do.
And because he smiled.
And because they laughed.
And because she was still there.
But mostly because there is more work to be done.
Joe Varisco is a graduate student at the Jane Addams School for Social Work at UIC and currently interns with Broadway Youth Center’s Drop-In Program and Night Ministry. He has spent the last two years in Chicago integrating with queer communities in performance work on stage for events such as Battlestar Fantastica at the Metro, You’re Being Ridiculous at Guerilla Tango Theater, Shits & Giggles and Northern Lights at Parlour. Beyond performance work, Joe has collaborated with his community to create CHICAGO IRL a locally-based queer zine and a documentary study, the Queer Culture & Social Media Stud.