For every tired woman, fast woman, strong woman, chronically ill woman, I work for you.
There are dreams I had when I was a little girl, a skinny shock of permed hair and ashy knees, two front teeth too big for my mouth. Dreams of pearls and champagne, the softest silks and purses bursting with money. Power and beauty, long soft legs and flawless hair, lipstick that never smudged. I heard woman and thought, “Perfection.” I heard woman and thought, “Finish line.”
For every depressed girl, smart girl, tall girl, differently abled girl, I work for you.
I applied red lipstick on the subway platform this morning, blotting the outer edges of my lips as the 2 train thundered into the station. I peered critically into my hand mirror, the one I bought in the Paris of Epcot, with the Moulin Rouge etched dutifully onto the cover. It was bright, almost too bright for 7:53 in the morning, but I licked the excess off my teeth and put my mirror away. I did not think, "Ugly." I took out my book.
For every loud woman, trans woman, talented woman, forgotten woman, I work for you.
I dream of cool, damp earth, digging my fingers into pliant soil. Juicy, plump tomatoes, thick carrot heads, golden corn bursting from the stalk. A good, deep ache in my back, sun beaming on my skin, sweat beading on my hairline, my neck, my spine. Tall grass, swaying flowers the bend and preen in the breeze. Whispering trees and maybe a hammock strung between them, rocking me gently as day bleeds into dusk. Family, like a distant beam of warm light: where’s Mom? Waiting, watching. But this moment, for me, just now, in the cool, gathering dark. With my silly vegetables, my sunflowers.
For every gay girl, shy girl, frustrated girl, fat girl, I work for you.
Sometimes it’s simply getting up in the morning, when every instinct demands you stay down. Cooking yourself a meal, eating it, savoring the flavor, the texture, the slow warmth of digestion. Buying yourself menstrual products before the need is dire. Sometimes it’s texting your friend “how are you?” even though you secretly resent them not texting you first. Drinking water when you don’t feel like it. Putting your phone down and breathing deeply, just for a few minutes. Then you can check Twitter again. Sometimes it’s taking a selfie. Sometimes it's deleting it. Going to work, suffering every quiet indignity, learning every difficult lesson, and returning the next day simply out of spite. Loving your partner. Sweeping your bedroom. Cleaning your cast iron skillet. Sometimes it’s calling your senators, and watching them vote against your interests two weeks later. Renewing your driver's’ license. Donating blood. Giving change to the person who begs, and not wondering what they’ll do with it. Work.
For every ugly woman, scared woman, hungry woman, invisible woman, I work for you.
My daughter is twenty months old. She loves to suck on her fingers. She loves to eat. She loves her doll, whose name is Baby, and her stuffed puppy, whose name is Puppy, and who her dad calls a teddy bear. She loves to stand up on the couch, drop her fork onto the floor, and smack her soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles into the bathtub. She loves to splash in the bathtub. She loves to share her food. She loves to say “uh oh!” She loves when her dad picks her up and helps her fly. She loves raspberries on her bellybutton and soft kisses on her nose. She loves to drink with a straw. She loves to crawl through her tunnel and see a smiling face on the other side. She loves to give hugs. She loves to keyboard smash when someone is on their laptop. She loves to swing. She loves to slide. She loves to hold keys and close doors and play with iPhones. She loves independence and make believe and being sung to. She loves books and watercolor paint and music. She loves.
For every confused girl, angry girl, sick girl, abused girl, I work for you.
For every self-hating woman, bitter woman, forgetful woman, murdered woman, I work for you.
Maybe everything I know is wrong, maybe I will die tomorrow, maybe the God I was told loved me unconditionally actually exists. Maybe we matter a whole lot more than we think, or we will all be utterly forgotten with the imminent demise of our planet. Maybe the revolution will be televised. Maybe I will have to learn how to fire a gun. The beauty is in the uncertainty; our future unfolds into perhaps, dictated by our choices, by our non-choices, by the magic of kismet and the mundanity of physics. Does any of this matter? I wonder, stepping out of the shower, skin flushed with steam. What does any of it mean? What is the point of this, of blood and marrow and enamel and ligament and saliva? Why run, and sweat, and cry, and angst, and fuck, and write? Giving birth and taking breaths and breaking bones and frying plantains? Speeding towards death, towards the only certainty, the final sleep, the ultimate dark? Why?
I don’t know, but somehow, I still give a damn. Damn. Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up, and I’ll get to work. For myself, and for my partner, and for my daughter. Because I’ve been loved, I am loved, because I love. In the midst of hate. Because this world is precious to me - sacred, and worth fighting for. For every woman, every girl, every person other and in between. For every fallen daughter of the first woman, bleeding, grasping, clinging, laughing, dying, dying to live. For Eve. For Eve. For Eve.