an important walk i once took

[CW: self-harm]

March 8, 2010

I just want to see the gay penguins.

Central Park is BIG. I had no idea! I should have known. Didn’t all those joggers and stroller-walkers and assorted predators on Law & Order: SVU make their home in this park? How would a smaller park have possibly contained them all? This home to gay penguins, and for a few hours, now me.

Central Park is big, and it is warm enough in New York City that I don’t even really need a coat, and my hair is still long and sad, and I am twenty years old, and I just want to see the gay penguins.

You know who I never want to see again? Fucking YOU KNOW WHO. The first thing I thought when I came here is that I can look out of car windows here, and breathe. I am not afraid of glimpsing the car that I have memorized, the car that can only be on its way to insanely hot encounters with other girls– sorry, WOMEN, probably– who are beautiful and funny and talented and who do not cry all the time. I cry all the time. My cheeks are full and fluffy, my hair is long and sad, I do not know what to do about clothes, and, admittedly, I am pretty funny, but I cannot stop crying. I do not know if I will ever stop crying.

I need to find these gay penguins.

On the one hand, I do have a ticket to see The Addams Family at the Lunt-Fontanne tonight, but on the other hand, time has kind of ceased to bear any real meaning to me. This park is big and beautiful, and I walked all the way here, mostly because I am too afraid to use the subway, but also because I am FREE. Free as a bird! I am free from my fears and– it feels like– my own mortality. I have a ticket to The Addams Family, and I am on a quest to see gay penguins. That must make me “okay,” yeah? I have plans, I have places to go, I have interests, I have reasons to stick around.

I choose to be in open defiance of where I was just a few days before I boarded the plane to NYC: sitting in my college apartment, alone and sawing at my forearm with a pair of purple craft scissors. I do not understand how self-harm works, but it feels like something I deserve. Really, and I won’t recognize it until later, it feels like a thing I hope someone else will walk in on me doing. I pray that someone will discover me, without me having to speak it aloud, and see that I am in danger. Because I cannot speak it aloud. I need someone to see, and then to know, and then to save me. I am not ready to speak it aloud.

December 9, 2019

I don’t know if I will ever be ready to speak it aloud.

March 8, 2010

I don’t have a smart phone at this point in my life, so I have no idea where the Central Park Zoo might be. But I have at least the hope that I will bump into it, and I will take hope WHERE I CAN GET IT, THANK YOU. Hope is these fabled gay penguins, because how can life be the tragedy I think it is when GAY PENGUINS EXIST?

I am putting a lot of pressure on these gay penguins, I know.

No smart phone, no innate sense of direction, no prior Central Park experience, and yet I do not feel lost. Again, I have hope here that I cannot afford myself at home right now. At home, I’m going to just keep doing what I’ve been doing, and I know it’s not working, and I know it’s what’s making me cut myself with craft supplies, but I’m also just not ready to stop. So, I’m going in circles. I’m afraid to make any sudden moves, any wrong turns, to trod any unbeaten paths. Right now, in Central Park, I go wherever I want. It is wonderful.

After a few hours, it is probably time to start heading back. I have no idea where I am. I pick any exit from the park, and take in my surroundings. There is a big, gorgeous building standing across the street from me.

The Museum of Natural History.

I hear it, as always, because I am a huge dork, with the cadence of Captain Neweyes from We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story. And this is what gives my little nerd-brain pause:

Is this the museum with the DINOSAURS?!

I run across the street, up the steps, and into the lobby, and oh my goodness, there they are. Fucking DINOSAURS. I show my student ID, pay my $18, and am granted access to a time machine. I wander through the Fossil Halls, my stupid mouth hanging open.

December 9, 2019

Here is what dinosaurs make me think of now, and oh, I will go to any museum to look at them: Time isn’t guaranteed for any of us. Hearts break, and meteors crash, and the oceans might boil over, and we’ve got to live today, I think. Carpe fucking diem, my fellow theropods.

March 8, 2010

The museum is about to close, and I still have that ticket to The Addams Family in my pocket. The Lunt-Fontanne is on West 46th Street. Where am I? I hop back out onto the street, and find the sign.

81st Street.

Oh, my.

Well, I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?

I square my shoulders, turn to the South, feel the wind in my long, not-so-sad hair, and (just for now) believe in myself. I am alive, and I can do this.

Because dinosaurs once ruled the Earth, and gay penguins exist, and my feet have gotten me this far, and I am going to see Nathan Lane onstage, and I will definitely one day be okay.

December 1, 2019

And they were. I am.



Published by Dani

I like breakfast, marine mammals, Star Wars, comedy, the song "Dead Man's Party," and Halloween musical revues at theme parks. Let's be friends!

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