Paper Girl

I just want to exist in the world. I want to be true to myself. But I can’t do both and survive. I never learned to be a cog. To shut of my personality and my beliefs so I could fit in. I’m not a good liar. The mask I’ve worn has always mostly looked like me. I chose this hair cut, these clothes. I grew up weird and alienated. I never wanted to fit in. I never wanted to shave off my curlicues so I could slide smoothly into the machine of society, forget who I am and simply work hard to eat and have the things I’m supposed to want. I am offensive to people just by existing, just by being myself. My hair cut, my piercings, my odd behavior. I never wanted to be a sheep. Fuck the pasture, I want to be in the woods. I’m a fox. I live off the land and steal chickens from the farmers who think they can control nature. Everyone wants to escape from nature, to pave over it, sanitize it, control it even within themselves. I refuse to be a sky-rise when I could be a treehouse. I don’t believe in resumes and wage slaves and 401ks. I don’t agree with dress codes, and codes of conduct, and disappearing within a cold facade. It’s not ok that people are all cookie cutter shapes. If we were all meant to be the same we would reproduce asexually.

My disability gets in the way of my independence in ways no one realizes. Because I never wanted to have a desk job. I’m not suited for corporate America. I don’t take orders well. I want to build a cabin in the woods, live in a commune with shared work and benefits; somewhere I don’t have to depend on society at large to accept and support me. I want to work the land, take care of animals, build sustainable structures. Now, I have my shoes fastened on like shackles that hold me in the fabricated reality most people accept. I can’t run barefoot through the forest. I can’t embrace the tops of trees. Last summer I swam in the ocean. I had to unfasten my bonds, drag myself through the sand, and swallow a liter of salt water as it pummeled my face until I was deep enough, past the frothing, aggressive wave breaks. Then I could swim. Coming back in to shore was just as violent and I knew it would be a long time before I hazarded the journey again.

I feel like I’m cut off from God. Winter has been so much easier this year than ever before. I used to get depressed in winter because it’s cold and dark and I missed the lush green of summer. Now, I’m safe inside, not tempted by path or field to run and frolic in the bounty of Earth. Not reminded of what I’ve lost. Now my best bet for employment and livelihood is a desk job, one where I can’t be seen by the public who are so offended by my refusal to play the game. Now that I finally want to live I feel like the world is telling me to disappear. But if I’m doing this shit, I’m doing it my way.


Paper Girl by Camille Willis


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