Welcome back to Stories, everyone! First of all, we want to truly apologise for the radio silence this past couple of weeks- life can be so rude, can’t it, with its constant neediness. Always interrupting more delightful pursuits. No matter now, we have quit our jobs and given our children away and we are now here for you, until the end of the internet.
On to today’s business.
We are so very excited about Portraits, the new series on Stories. Curated by the extraordinary Ed (@Edgothboy), this series takes us through the very different experiences of six interconnected people at the exact same point in time. A brilliant platform of perspectives and coming-of-age awareness, Portraits is more or less a snapshot of words. In today’s piece, Ed lays a little background for the literary feast that is to come.
No one told us what it’s like to be ‘adolescent’. It happens all at once. Thousands of carefree children set alight by a flood of hormones, worked into a frenzy and thrown into the narrow-laned stampede to adulthood. Someone called it the ‘rat race’, and we are inclined to agree. No one told us of the betrayal that is growing up, the betrayal that begins inside your own body.
Breasts swell and jiggle; signal flags telling half-truths, inviting unwelcome interpretation. Twin showmen, they announce themselves, poking against the chiffon of your blouse, feeding off your embarrassment. You think that’s the very definition of agony, till they decide to simply not show up.
In the bush that grows resilient like desert scrubland lies a thing of constant shame and pride. A second consciousness if you will; a thing you look at askance as you pass mirrors and wear too small underwear to tame. It’s such an assertive thing, until it’s not. Until it wants things that you’re not allowed to have.
They tell us in Sunday school. ‘You can control your body, you have the power. You have power over the flesh.’
We laugh because we know better. We know the body is a wild animal. We know it’s much easier to lure it, deceive it, tempt it, urge it to follow its whims, and ride in its violent wake. We know that for good to exist, someone has to be evil.
We know that our parent’s love for us is eternal. Something you never have to question, until you do. Until eternal becomes a concept, something flighty, intangible. You learn about motives, you realise that ‘parent’ is a compound noun, masking a spectrum of misfits making it up as they go along. You learn doubt, you grow up way too fast.
We are that rookie, running through a minefield, nearly deaf from ringing gunshots, trying to stay alive.
The simplest of concepts become corrals, places to be caged. Gender, interests, sport, religion. They hawk them like shiny baubles, thrust under your nose, free to try.
‘Harmless…’ they hiss in your ear.
But once the band is around your arm, they pull tight and drag you away. They swear you can only choose one, if you’re lucky two. They swear you are a stereotype. They laugh when you have an opinion, their default response to your struggles is indifference.
‘You’re young.’ ‘These things won’t matter in five years.’
But they matter NOW.
They are urgent and powerful and devastating. And you’re drowning.
So we made Portraits. Signing our names with stories that might get whitewashed, or forgotten.
We recorded and we hoped.
This Portraits Special is now concluded and you can read all the parts of the connected story in one place here CLICK.