Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren



My father hovered somewhere between conscious and unconscious. A hundred tubes and wires traveled in an out of him. He had lost more than fifty pounds and lost it so quickly that his skin failed to shrink to his new body. It hung off him like excess fabric. He looked shriveled.

She was like a real strawberry in a roomful of strawberry Pop-Tarts.

I know something about performing. I know that when it seems like the avalanche is about to roll over you, you face into it and keep both arms swimming as hard as you can. You smile and you sell it.

Before that experience, I had often felt the kind of alone that comes from the suspicion that you are not only genetically different from those around you, but different in your very soul…[then] I was a different kind of alone. I was alone and ashamed of myself…it was no one’s fault but mine.

Like people touch the feet of Jesus on the Pieta and hope for a blessing, I would touch the feet of the dancer and hope for grace.

I’ve always liked rooms where the party hasn’t started yet…I love the feeling that anything could happen. After the party, when anything already has happened, there’s usually the inevitable fact to face that anything wasn’t all you’d hoped it to be.

The hitting was easy compared to the words. The hitting happened only infrequently but the words happened every day. I knew he was wrong, knew he was inexcusable. But still, the words were the worst part.

Power tasted like an oyster, like I’d swallowed the sea, all it’s memories and calm and rot and brutality.

We’re looking for the story that will save our lives.

I was sure that if I could just scale this fortress I would reach a height with a sunny blue sky and fresh air. I would stand there and experience myself as redeemable rather than ruined. I had no idea what kind of animal I was facing.

If you had suggested to me at the time that my problems were due to some faulty wiring, some chemistry experiment gone wrong in my brain, I’d have said you were suggesting that I not take responsibility for my own choices. Now I know I was wrong. Now when I’m haunted by the specter of depression, I recognize it for what it is. I don’t systematically dismantle my life every time depression pops out from behind a tree. But at that time, I was sure it was fixable if the world would just change faster, or if I would.

We all like to believe that we’d be brave. We’d be the hero in the movie, the one who sacrifices himself to save others, the one who does the right thing when the world around him is wrong. In the movie the right choice is clear. And we leave the theatre feeling good about ourselves because we can say, Me, I’d do the right thing. No one says, Me, I’d be the coward. Me, I’d rat out my neighbor to save myself. But that’s what people do, mostly.

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