I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with closets.
On one hand it’s been a safe spot wasn’t it?
A haven to escape to when I was afraid,
when I decided to emulate Harry Potter,
living out of my closet instead of a cupboard under the stairs,
both cramped and crowded and full like my unanswered prayers,
they’re still not places meant to house a person.
Sometimes it felt like I was hiding off in Narnia,
how glorious it’d be if I could enter a reality
where an ancient prophecy foretold that I was royalty.
All it took was an escalating fight below where I sat
to send me off to a world built up in my head.
If I could cram myself far back enough,
if I could hold my breath until my body quivered from lack of oxygen,
if I could become a frozen, lifeless doll hidden among the hand-me-downs,
the discount Gymboree outfits,
the boxes stacked up on the floor like building blocks on the ground.
I could become the wallpaper.
And nobody pays attention to the wallpaper.
I’ve always been good at hiding.
I could hide in plain sight,
not a difficult feat when there’s nothing particularly worthwhile to view.
Given the chance I could hide in an empty room.
You’d never even notice me standing in front of you.
Came in handy when we played hide-and-seek as kids up to our shenanigans.
In my gang of misfits I was the long reigning champion.
The downstairs closet, different from my bedroom closet, was my favorite spot.
Only thirty seconds were given to scatter and disappear.
The doors always creaked but I figured out
that if you opened them at just the right speed, they made barely any sound.
We kept our thick woolen coats here, blankets folded on the bottom,
laundry baskets piled up on occasion
for when company was coming and we ran out of time to finish cleaning.
I would burrow underneath the soft fabrics, draping the coats over my frame in a natural way
all before the seeker got to twenty.
Sometimes they’d open the door,
I’d see a sliver of light,
they’d feel around, try and scare whoever may be hiding, sometimes
jump in to see if there was anything living and breathing.
I got good at holding my breath.
Got good at not moving, like I was some sort of abandoned carcass,
My body made a convincing winter parka.
Looking back, I wonder how many times they just stopped looking for me.
Once, my friend went home without saying goodbye.
Wasn’t worth the trouble to keep her mom waiting outside,
she said farewell to my sisters and I stayed hidden for two hours.
I don’t know when they gave up.
There’s another closet that I love to hate and hate to love.
I’ll give you three guesses as to where this one could possibly be going.
One, two, three,
You guessed it, I’m talking about
the metaphorical closet I’ve been living in my whole damn life.
This one is filled with mothballs and tired labels
and scratchy handknit sweaters that no one wants to see,
much like my sexuality,
we are both kept tucked away, hidden from view,
and told that we are not there and we are not wanted.
Me and the rejected apparel share this closet, cause we all have things in common,
we make people uncomfortable.
Why do I make you uncomfortable?
Is it because I’m itchy
like the jumper your grandmother stitched for you that you never wear
or do my feelings make you want to climb out of your skin?
Does who I fall in love with make you want to climb out of your skin?
You make me want to crawl out of my skin
like you crawled out of the sweaters you threw in here
but I can’t leave this body this mind this soul, I’m stuck here
like you’re stuck with the smell of mothballs on your winter coat each December.
I need air though.
It’s too crowded though.
my overbearing feelings and fears of being discovered take up too much space though.
I just want to get out,
it’s stuffy it’s hard to breathe I can’t breathe in here let me out
but the door is jammed.
Can’t come out.
Can’t come out until the yelling stops.
Can’t come out until they find me.
Can’t come out until my existence is no longer a crime.
I still haven’t found my way out.