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Florida

Consider me the human version of a potted orchid. An old, stern woman on an airplane once told me orchids are the most difficult flower to grow.

We were all going to die, here, together, I thought. All of us at once. Something about that made me feel both relieved and sad.

By the time I was done, my fingers were bleeding. Because that’s how many hairs you have on your head. So many that it makes your fingers bleed to pull them all out.

Only a few of us take matters into our own hands in this way. Actually tearing your own hair out of your head. …The shame of trying to look better, and then the shame of making yourself look worse via your own actions, of giving yourself bald spots, of making yourself go bald. Shame upon shame upon shame. So much shame. Some people die from it.

There was a beat. Then, in the best parenting save I’ve encountered anywhere ever, my dad replied, “Yeah, sweetie. I don’t know either.” And that’s how I came to believe “oral sex” meant “talking” for the next six or seven years.