Hypotheses on Rawness

Vulnerability is the second before the joke registers. Or maybe it’s dreams of arriving at work in your underwear, naked from the waist up, fielding imploring glances from casual acquaintances who tilt their heads out of their cubicles. It’s the fat lady’s name on the fashion show roster, the chalked out diatribes and impressionist’s genital depictions on public bathroom walls. It’s “hello class, my name is so-and-so and I’ll be your teacher this year,” or “Mom, Dad, I have to tell you I’m (gay, an atheist, dropping out, HIV positive, sad.)”

Maybe it’s saying “I love you,” or the soft plunk of fish in a bucket still waggling their silver tails in wet wild piles and flashing their glittering bodies in the blue. For the socially anxious, vulnerability is a chain of “hellos” that wedge in the throat, ghosts of scraps that might fly out at cocktail parties or over late-night diner counters, scarves that keep necks tied to heads on windy nights when it feels like all the trees are bowing down on pavement. It’s a stripper’s first day on the job, and knocking on the door of a new friend, glancing down to make sure your pants are zipped. It’s somehow crying in public although you never meant to, the bramble in your throat that you remember from age four when a dog got kicked in front of Target, yelped, and slunk away. Continue reading