How To Be The Girl I Know I Feel I Am, Not The One I Think I Was

Khánh Hmoong
Khánh Hmoong

We don our vintage finery and sashay through our little gingerbread house of disaffected youthfulness and precocious insight. Lighting cigarettes, we walk over to the window where we reflect on ourselves. We step over the cheap wine bottles and condom wrappers and applaud our profligate and wanton originality. We are young women with hearts deeper than our parents’ pockets, and we live a dichotomous existence; simultaneously swaddled in conscious appreciation of every moment while remaining effectively divorced from an objective opinion of ourselves.

We jocosely dismiss the notion of ironic racism, calling each other the n-word and fumbling our cigarettes as we pantomime gang signs. Two young women on a windowsill, laughing and exchanging knowing looks, two hundred and twenty pounds between the two of us, dripping wet, and we are most certainly dripping wet because every night of our lives must be punctuated with penetration. If we don’t go home with somebody, we haven’t gone home at all, and if we end the night without someone inside of us – our bodies as empty as our personalities — we know we’ve failed to live the lives we came here to live. We’ve failed our art. We’ve failed Brooklyn.

We’re adults now. Did you not hear the part about the cigarettes and the condoms? The smoke swirls around us like the stripes on a barber-shop pole. A vortex of smoke. A tornado of smoke. We feel like Dorothy, but instead of a regular wind-based twister, it’s a smoke twister. And we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Brooklyn, on a windowsill, living the kind of meaningful lives that the kids we left in Kansas could only dream about. We’re living poetry, and our meter is measured in phallic inches and playlists.

We light another cigarette, and another one, the smoke swirls even swirlier now. From our little windowsill in our brownstone we look down to the street and think about how far up we are, and how far we’ve come. We think about Kansas and how much of a difference six months can make. Vertigo sets in as gusts threaten the integrity of our little perch on the sill, ruining our smoke swirls, and gravity reminds us of its tyrannical authority over our frail bodies. As we regain our balance and build up new toxic plumes of adulthood, a different type of vertigo – a symbolic, emotional vertigo if you will – takes hold. We worry that our parents might cut us off, and like the drop from the sill to the street, we’ll have to pack our bags and leave our precious Brooklyn. We’ll have to leave our home and return back to a life we left behind. We’ll lose our adulthood.

As the swirls of smoke once again envelope our heads like achromatic Cinnabons, we let our fears of regression dissipate – much like the cigarette smoke that surrounds us. That’s the thing about smoke – like fear, it accumulates quickly, but it disappears without effort. It’s symbolic, really. It’s poetry.

We understand that who we are now is irrevocable. We realize that the women that we have become – the chain smoking artists with a windowsill and an insight into life bestowed upon only the most intuitive of souls – are more a part of us than they are a part of Brooklyn. We remind ourselves that at any moment, we could shut that window and we would cease to have an empathetic connection with our home, Brooklyn, where we have lived for several months. We give into clichés and know that home really is where the heart is, and if we ever were to find ourselves back in Kansas, we wouldn’t suddenly lose our tattoos or our interests in indie rock. We wouldn’t suddenly be the girls we once thought we were – we’d be the women we think we feel we are. We’d be the women that feel like they think they have become to be.

There we were. Two supremely distinct individuals, identical in visage and predilections, realizing a truly enlightened form of individuality – where you aren’t defined by the rent you don’t pay or the subway stop you live off, but instead by the neighborhood of yourself. The graffiti that lines our block is defined by our tattoos and smeared makeup, our bodegas represented by our low-rent high traffic genitals, and the inventory of our precious vintage stores adorn our emaciated vegan shoulders. We are Brooklyn, and if Dorothy’s tornado of swirly smoke and smoky swirls ever subsided, and we were to awake back in Kansas, we’d still be Brooklyn, and we’d still be the women we’ve thought we became, instead of the girls we felt we were before we thought about how to feel. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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