Today I started editing an independent dance for film that I worked on over the summer. I filmed right before I moved, and haven't had a chance to fool around with it until now, nearly three weeks later. I was having the time of my life. I hadn't done anything creative in ages and, as always, forgot just how amazing it makes me feel. Fooling around and editing is cool and fun and frustrating and time consuming - really just like any artistic endeavor. I love it.
This film is something I've been trying to make for almost three years now. Every time I choreographed in undergrad, I would start out with this topic in mind, but end up switching. It just wasn't time and I wasn't ready. But as my time in Hattiesburg, MS came to a close, I realized that my time to make this project was also running out. And in some ways, doing it as an independent project gives me more control. I don't have a deadline (which also means it'll take forever, but oh well) so I can take my time, and I don't have to share it with anyone before I'm ready.
This project is about sexual assault, mostly stemming from my own experience. Everything about the process was pretty terrifying, from creating the movement to sharing it with others. And of course, the brilliant idea to film it in the very place where I was date-raped.
I'd been by this place plenty of times before because it was right next to the tutoring center where I worked for a semester. It always made me nervous and I always walked quickly, but I could still do it. Long after my assaulter was gone, I still expected to see him hanging out there, waiting. Even when I stopped passing by, the place is engraved in my memory in incredible detail. I remember the dim lighting, the smell of a far off cigarette, the feeling of concrete. I remember studying for a dance history exam I had the next morning, I remember that it was slightly too warm for my sweater, I remember him trying to play "What Does the Fox Say" on his guitar.
I returned to this place almost four years later to see if it would actually be a good film site. I went by myself instead of waiting for the friend who said he'd go with me. It was exactly as I remembered it, minus the assaulter in the guise of a friend. It still made me nervous, and looking at it from the point of a videographer only gave me enough emotional distance to look around a bit before speed-walking back to my car.
And I showed up again the next day to actually film. I had my chill pills ready in case I needed them. Some strong coffee to give me comfort. The dancers who laughed and did stupid things together. And a job to do.
That day I conquered that place. I turned my terror into art (who knows if it'll be good or bad, though) and created something new to remember and associate with the site. Not necessarily to replace the bad, but to truly put it in the past.
Then, as I was packing for the big move, I found the ginormous sweater I was wearing when I was assaulted. I couldn't look at it without thinking about that night, but I still loved it enough to keep. I live in the south anyway, so it's not like I had a lot of opportunities to wear it. In the spirit of conquering old fears, I made a rather popular instagram post about it, challenging all of those people who say victims are asking for it by dressing provocatively.
So I was asking my friend to rape me because I was wearing jeans, a humongous sweater, and Doctor Who hat that hid most of my head?
Yeah, okay. Sure.
I love that sweater and I will always remember that night when I look at it, but that won't stop me from wearing it. It's not the sweater's fault and it's not mine, and I've had plenty of good memories in that sweater as well. Why can't those be as memorable? It's not really fair.
I was thinking about all of this while in the shower not too long ago, feeling pretty proud of myself for finally facing a few of my fears. I mean yeah, I'm still super duper anxious in public and don't like people behind me and get freaked out if people try to touch me too much and distrust anyone who claims they like me for something other than sex, but I'd still done something.
Then I go get on Facebook and end up clicking on an article about a woman who was assaulted and some of the horrifying replies she got after sharing her story. And I got scared again.
I am very, very honored to be surrounded by such good people who support and love and respect me, and yet all it takes are a few shaming comments to rip me apart. It's like I think I'm building a brick wall but then it turns to tissue paper; it barely takes a breath to make it disappear.
I feel very alone here in Florida. I have two friends and they're both great. But I'm only just starting to get to know them, and like I said: I just don't trust people very much.
None of my recent posts seem to make much sense anymore or have a decent conclusion, but hey, that's life.
Anyway, I'm still working on the film and grad school starts in one week. I like Tallahassee despite the roads' tendencies to switch around and make no sense. I miss Cane's, but they have Dunkin Donuts here and Steak n Shake, so it's not like I don't have access to comfort food. I have my two friends for now.
That's all I got right now.
ps. This shirt technically refers to suicide and came from Live Through This, so go check it out cause it's cool.