by: Todd Andrew Clayton
Because I didn’t know why I was so mad that night until my fingers hit the keyboard the next morning. Because I don’t ever want to forget how his kiss made my skin tingle in the car that day. Because when we jumped in the river, the water crawled into our hair and made us shiver. Because I almost got married and need to know how. Because saying, “I’m sorry,” out loud sounded cheap. Because seventh grade was awkward for us all. Because I need to know which stories are important. Because my mind would get too cluttered otherwise. Because it makes me a more honest person. Because some days it’s all I have. Because it keeps me hopeful. Because it makes my parents proud. Because it makes me proud. Because Dean thinks I’m good at it, and I have the email to prove it. Because I never thought I could, and neither did she. Because Taylor told me to, and I promised I would.
Because they said if I shared my story I’d lose my job. Because I had to share it anyway. Because he called in December to tell me gay people don’t belong. Because that’s called injustice. Because I was afraid of myself for so many years and I’m not anymore and that matters a hell of a lot. Because no one whispered into my twelve-year-old ear to tell me that it’s totally normal for boys to like other boys. Because he wrote me a letter promising he wouldn’t kill himself after he read that one I wrote about the way my dad hugged me when I told him everything. Because it really is normal. Because when I was in fourth grade, my dad spray painted rocks and scattered them across our back yard when the gold rush at school didn’t go as well as I’d liked. Because he also helped me pay for counseling when I had sex for the first time at twenty-one and it was way scarier for me than I thought it’d be. Because more dads should be hugging their sons.
Because no one should have to walk through life without good, loving friends. Because a lot of people do. Because I know what it means to feel so lonely you want to vomit.
Because it takes practice. Because I can’t help it. Because it teaches me that failure is fine. Because it’s worth waiting for the right metaphor. Because, “metaphor,” really means, “person.” Because time can only smell like buttermilk biscuits on paper, and my arms aren’t actually fifteen-years long, and it’s weird to tell people the color green sounds like home over coffee. Because, like most worthwhile things, it’s difficult. Because it makes me feel brave.
Because some words are too thick for air.
Todd Andrew Clayton wishes he were good at soccer. He lives in San Diego & writes at coffee shops & in his living room. Someday, he hopes that he can write & get paid for it. Until then, he’s going to grad school. He likes Thai food & wants to go to Ireland before he dies.