but in dreams/i can hear your name, or: kind of a story about lemon cake

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines

(Guys, fuck: is this my book?! In which a pretentious cream puff works their way through Whitman’s collected works?


… Would you buy it?)

Alright. Let’s do this again:

Fuck, guys.

This needs to be it for a while. I need I need I need to meet those deadlines I’ve mentioned, need my heart to take a break, need to dare myself to exist alone and quietly, at least for a single goddamn minute.

Tomorrow I will wake up and run, I think, the first run since my last half marathon. I was not ready for the last half. My left thigh still twinges. I was very slow. I made a lot of dramatic, pained little noises the whole time.

But tomorrow I will wake up and run. Maybe just a little bit, maybe very slowly.

(I don’t know yet where I’m going with this, but thank you so much for hanging in there. I appreciate you.)

Today all I wanted was to eat something lemon-y. I stopped at a Starbucks on my way to work this morning (I did not sleep well the night before, and I only got myself on the bus at all by promising myself that we could stop for breakfast; I am very easy), but I talked myself out of the little lemon cake.

Team, I want that little lemon cake every single time I am in a Starbucks, and I have never once ordered it. And, believe you me: I am a person who orders sweets. I used to go to the doughnut shop by my old house, like, three times a week, but there has always felt something so incredibly luxurious and nearly sinful about the lemon cake at Starbucks.

So, once again, I did not order it.

I thought about it all day.

You know what else I thought about all day?

Everything else.

And I have come to the conclusion that, while I fancy myself a rather harmless bit of fluff, I am actually capable of inflicting great pain, and I am capable of breaking things that I do not begin to know how to fix, and that there are venomous scales lurking beneath my fuzzy exterior, and sometimes I wield them better than I know.

So, I made a bargain with myself:

Tomorrow I wake up and run. (It is okay if I am bad at it.) And I get into my impossibly huge shower, and I scrub behind my ears, and I wash my soft underbelly, and I sing something loud and off key. And I engage with friends, and I show up for my responsibilities, and I put on my bow tie, and I even try something new and scary.

And I will be good. I will do good.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

(I’m so sorry.)

I am going to try harder, I promise.

I went to two different Starbucks on the way home from work, because the first Starbucks was out of the lemon cake.

And so I sat on the train, tired and sick-feeling, and I tore off big chunks of lemon cake, and fed them to myself, and that sharp, thick icing stuck to the roof of my mouth, and oh, it was everything I hoped it would be. And I sat on the train, tired and sick-feeling, and I re-read a poem that two dear people have sent to me over the past few months:

(Not Whitman!)

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Well, I love poetry and sunshine and reading smutty fanfiction and writing about my feelings in my pajamas while I drink red wine that I got from a CVS, and I love listening to music and I love my people dearly and I love being up onstage and I love each and every whale, and, yes, I love you.

But I am going to do better. There are crumbs in the corners of my mouth, because I have made a deal, and I am going to do better.

(I still don’t really know what the point of this is. Sometimes I think that if I don’t get to talk about every dumb feeling I’ve ever had, I will wither up and die. You are awfully sweet to stick around.)

Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?

(It is okay if the answer is “no.”)

There is a Me that is going to emerge from this, if I can just hang on. I will be the soft writer nerd in a bow tie who is also a total feelings-badass and is a great friend and takes care of people… I will be who I have always wanted to be.

This body that is full of lemon cake and sadness, I am learning to love it. This non binary body that wants to wear waistcoats and kiss girls.


Because I need to say it, maybe just this once: I am not wrong. I am not bad. I am not broken.

Here’s what happens next, I think: I am going to finish this glass of wine, going to cry it out to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, going to do the dishes, and then I am taking the soft animal of my body to fucking bed. (It is 7:45 pm on a Saturday, I am the fucking coolest.)

And in the morning I will be good. For me. For you.

But also, Mary Oliver again:

You do not have to be good.

Fuck, I am tired.

Hi, I am Dani. I still cry over “Breaking of the Fellowship,” and I really like lemon cake, and I think you are just the bee’s fucking knees.

Perhaps I am not good.

That might be okay.

When the seas and mountains fall
And we come to end of days
In the dark I hear a call
Calling me there,
I will go there
And back again.


I promise I promise I promise.

(Okay, maybe one more drink before bed. It is Saturday, after all.)

Please know this, if nothing else: If you would ever like a little lemon cake, please do ask me. I can help.

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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