It might be that all I’ve done since graduating is binge watch seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It might be that I’ve come to only express myself with neon blue lipstick and layers of eyeshadow. It might be that the world is just a campy motherfucker that’s doused in glitter, vodka, and one mean cincher. A.K.A., I’ve come to realize that the world is a drag queen and there is no stopping her. Because:
1. The world runs on her own clock.
About 8 hours before my English commencement ceremony, while I was at the gym on the elliptical, my mom texted me that one of her best friends had died. During the ceremony as the keynote speaker did performance art and got drunk, my throat started to itch. Not the there-is-a-chip-stuck-in-my-throat kind of itch, but the itch that only appears when your body is about to have a full physical breakdown. Yes, by the end of the ceremony I was coughing, sneezing, and texting my parents so that we could meet up at the nearby CVS to have a power hour of cough drops.
When a drag queen goes on stage she not only has her audience for hype, not only does she have the music for inspiration, but she also has her memories and her trauma and her disappointments and her tragedies always lurking. Performing a different gender, a more personal gender, or just your own gender can often illicit a lot of harassment. I’ve gone out of the house with makeup and been chased down by people, I’ve been heckled, and I’ve had stuff thrown at me. But in that moment when I’m having fun just being me, it’s all worth it. Being alive (cliché alert) is full of the highest highs and lowest lows and in the end we all die. Is there nothing campier than this?!
2. Mama can read you faster than you can say, “UHHHH.”
In this moment of sickness, mourning, and celebration, I realized that the world had just dropped some truth. If I decide to go out 5 days in a row and then not sleep, terrible things will happen to me at terrible times. If I decide to worry myself silly about the future or jobs or graduation or adult life or being real, my stress will break me down physically. However, if I decide not to think about things (dead people), then they will think about me from the afterlife and demand their just time. And if I look a mess, I will feel a mess; if I feel a mess, I will look a mess; if I am a mess, I am a mess.
Drag queens pick up on the slightest nuances of an audience member’s personality or (messy) physical state. Usually for humor or for a reality check, reading shifts the power back to the drag queen so that she literally owns the moment and this part of you. The world does this on the daily. It kicks you from nowhere, keeps you down, and then when you least expect it it hands you a puppy, maybe a paycheck, maybe a five dollar bill on the sidewalk.
3. She messes with you just so she can have a good story.
After this almost week-long debacle at my parents–nursing myself back to health, going to the funeral, mourning and grieving the loss and then starting to heal–I came back to reality in Ann Arbor. Filled with absolutely nothing, this post-grad pre-job life (of, also, just a week) was composed of three things: seeing friends, reading, and working out. The latter, particularly running, was recently a sore part of my life because I had injured my left knee months before in a *tragic* voguing accident. But my entire body and soul was feeling better so I decided that I would return again to running. 10 minutes in my achilles tendon was on fire. 15 minutes in I could not walk. So, I moved to the elliptical. This machine, however, was the only one available and it was broken. I was stuck working on the highest incline and the highest resistance, and after 5 minutes I gave up only to return to a weight room that had filled itself up like sardines: full capacity. I walked begrudgingly home to stretch and called it a day.
Some life moments–yes, honey, even the horrible ones–are worth it once you realize that you can make a damn good story about it. After talking to many a drag queen, I know that they can craft any moment into a kiki, a cocktail story, or a read. There are no wasted moments because every second can be retold, performed, and perfected. Life is a story that we keep retelling. And the world has given me a computer, full use of my fingers, and spaces like this to rant and entertain and have catharsis. The world gives me hell but then it lets me communicate a story.
4. Dearest vogues past you as you black out in the corner.
And after we tell these stories, life keeps serving up more! As my summer job started and I had to wear pants for more than an hour or two at a time, I came home exhausted. My feet smelled, I was sweaty, my mind was murky and hollow, and I couldn’t keep an eye open. That is until my body flung itself into bed. I tossed and I turned, moaning in delight, until my alarm went off. I hadn’t fallen asleep for a second. I woke up to a phone full of angry texts. I had 30 minutes to get ready to catch the finale to RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 finale.
A drag queen is always moving, always mingling, always werqing, always serving, always on point. The world stops for no one, well, unless we destroy it. Even then, we’re dead, too. Some days I try to convince myself that if I just think really hard I can stop time and space like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, I never wake up levitating, I never twitch my finger, and my friend’s cat never talks. Seconds pass, minutes loom, hours dash, days are forgotten, years accumulate. The world keeps on spinning.
5. She serves face until she literally gags and dies.
But now the days have passed and I am in the middle of an amazing job. It is filled with amazing colleagues, a hot, summer sun, gorgeous weather, and days that drift on into soothing nights. Books and booze and besties and brains. There is nothing else I really want for this moment. This post-grad life is something I could have never imagined five months ago: still in school, dying from the thesis I would later leave unfinished, and finding myself buried in a foot of snow with negative forty degree weather.
The world will return to balance but until it does, I will enjoy her beautiful mug. And beat my face till we are twins.