because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Above my bed

The metre-and-a-half wide frame has hung empty above my bed since July. I paid a man to hang it. I'd harboured, to begin with, reservations about how my feminism and my employment of somebody else to execute the job dovetailed awkwardly, but after I hit myself in the face with a hammer one night, not understanding the difference between a nail at 45 degrees into a diving wall and a drill with a spiral anchor into a brick wall, I decided the most feminist act would be, in fact, to use my hard-earned feminist money to feministly delegate somebody better qualified to help me out - who yes, just so happened to be a man. I have never looked back. 

The room needed something above the bed - that's why I got the frame and had it hung - but I couldn't rush to fill it. It needed to be right. I didn't want a generic Ikea print: they can satisfy the dead area behind the door in the living room because that is a neutral space. Bedrooms - bedrooms must be personal. Considered. It's where the two best things in a day happen: getting dressed, and getting undressed. Intention, and relief. Hopeful beginning, satisfying end. The rule I set myself for the print was the same as I have for restaurant menus and OPI nail colours - that when you know what you want, don't apologise for it. It's nobody's business that I get Big Apple Red every time. I would not be swayed by on-trend palm prints or vintage movie posters. I'd know when I saw it what should go there.

I went to Chicago again in October. Me and my two best friends - my mother, and my father - visited my brother, and this time I made it to the Art Institute. I ditched my two best friends when we got there, because 1) I like being alone in a gallery, so I can hear my feelings. I don't know why people go on and on about finding ways to hear themselves think. Art shuts off my thoughts, thank God. It activates my feelings. I don't need words in my head when I have that crashing sense of understanding in a place just left of my centre, sort of up a bit and then down to somewhere near my pubis. Thinking is masturbatory. Feeling is release. Looking at the way somebody else sees the world and getting a wordless punch that steals the wind from you, understanding that we are nothing, really, in the grand scheme, not when beauty like this exists, but also, we are everything, am everything, how did I not see it before? My solo body knows what to do better than my brain, in an art gallery. 2) I ditched my parents, my best friends, because they were bugging me.

Alone and happy and feeling things, I saw a painting by Max Beckmann - Reclining Nude. It was massive tits and protruding belly and generous thighs and sexy but also sexual. That's important, because The Mail Online - and we all read it, still, so stop before you start - tells us to be sexy, but that if we like sex we're sluts. Still. In 2017. Even after Beyoncés fifth studio album reiterated what Janet Jackson tried to say twenty-four years ago - that sex is fun if you do it right. I was once with a man who sent me a shopping list of sex toys, and taught me how to use each one, and long after he was out of my life the sex toys stayed and do you know what I learned. I learned that there is nothing to fear about my body when she is built for pleasure. Any size, any shape, any weight, that matters not when I know how to make myself orgasm again and again and again, and because I know how to make myself orgasm again and again and again I know how to have sex with other people that pleases me, and I have confidence enough to teach my partner how to make me feel that good, too, and when I look in the mirror and I'm blotchy and jiggly and mushy I am glorious because I am built to feel heavenly. We're taught to look sexy but not be sexual: the revolution is being sexual without being told what is sexy. 

The Max Beckmann isn't copyrighted for prints. Tamara de Lempika is, though. She painted La Belle Rafaela, a woman she met walking in the park who became her lover. When I was 20 I lived with my first and only boyfriend for six months, before we understood we had no business being that young and that co-dependant. We argued about a de Lempika in an art shop near York Minster, once, and he said some awful things about women who paint women and the block-style and pop-y colours. I met him for dinner after we broke up, when he was sleeping with my best friend and wasn't telling me yet, and he was carrying a copy of The Great Gatsby. "I picked it up because of the cover," he said, and the cover was - of course, you guessed it - a de Lempika.

The desire de Lempicka has for Rafaela is palpable. And I reckon de Lempika desired her - no, loved her, you don't paint somebody like that unless they're loved - because she was comfortable. Rafaela has an arm up behind her head and the other lays purposefully by her breast and her tummy is front and centre of the whole damned thing, demanding and unapologetic. Her face is tilted back and it looks to me as if she gives not one shit if somebody else is there or not: she's happy. Happy to be seen in totality. Happy with who she is. With her sexuality. With her chins and rounded arms and flat nipples and small waist and funny hair and she knows what it is to feel magnificent for free, to be a queen upon a throne of somebody else's finger inside her and to charge the mouth of another, over and over and over and over, more, and more, and more - demanding, greedy, full of herself because to not be is to be empty and I don't know if I am talking about Laura Jane Williams or Rafaela anymore but I found a print for the space above my bed. 





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