Ever since I started to let people get to know me, I’ve been expending far too much time and energy on trying to find out who, exactly, I am. It’s strange – as a writer, I’ve created countless characters, and I’ve sent them on the path of more stories than I can probably name. I’ve fleshed them out, given them strengths and weaknesses, quirks and thoughts and feelings, but the one character who has been the most difficult to build thus far has been me – the character of Ciara. She’s been a bitch, really – unrelenting, unsatisfied. I tell her to be one thing, and she says no. I really hate her sometimes, but I want to build her for some reason.
And as of this morning, I think I’ve stumbled upon an identity that satisfies both me and her: that of the contradiction.
I exist in the space between gender and sexual orientation. I am both man and woman. Both the stereotype of the suburban, heterosexual housewife who delights in baking and caring for dependents, and the stereotype of the radical feminist lesbian, screaming until my voice is hoarse to kill all men. Kill all men and put me in their place, because as much as I might say I don’t, I want to rule. I want them all to bow down before me, to love me, to write my name with special care in their history books. But I know that they won’t do it if I order them to, so I don’t. Instead, I suggest it to them sweetly, with a smile on my face and a waiting embrace held in my arms.
I believe firmly in love and compassion in a world that so rarely accepts it. I want to help the people around me, to do whatever I can to give them a leg up, because I know how hard it is to get what you want out of life. But at the same time, I promised myself long ago that I would never let anyone, man, woman, or child, stand in the way of my dreams, and if I have to, I am prepared to cut your throat to achieve them. I might cry over it afterward, but I will do it. I have given myself no other choice.
I am known to one by the name of Daughter, and I am known to another by the name of Burden, and both titles suit me just fine. I am the bigot and the activist, the bleeding heart and the cold fist. I cry at Disney movies and laugh at horror movies. I have difficulties getting close to people, but I feel like I understand them well, and as much as I cannot connect, I still love them all dearly – even the broken ones. Even the poisoned ones. Even the ones like me.
As a writer, I am every character that I have ever created. I honestly don’t know which came first – them or me. Did they create me, or did I create them? (Which came first – the chicken or the egg?) I am the soul-sucking vampire, the forest-dwelling trickster, the bold hero and the cruel villain. I don’t fit into boundaries, because they don’t fit into boundaries. My characters are never just one thing, they are everything – male, female, gay, straight, wise, foolish, young, old – and because of that, I am everything, and I am nothing. I am only what they are.
There is only one label that I can place on myself that I feel comfortable bearing – the label of ‘writer’. Everything else feels wrong. It feels like a role, one that I am expected to play whether I want to or not. It feels like a narrow definition that I must shave off pieces of myself in order to fit into.
And maybe the problem isn’t that I can’t fit into these boxes. Maybe the problem is that I’m trying to fit into them at all. Maybe I was made to transcend boxes. Maybe I’m more than that.