I Fell Off My Name

Aside from being a nice song by American indie band Faded Paper Figures, ‘I Fell Off My Name’ is an accurate descriptor of the last six to twelve months of my life.

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I spent a very long time thinking about my name. Why it worked; why it didn’t. What would fit better or what wouldn’t fit at all.oleander-32779_1280

It’s strange that we just make noises and people recognise them as being ‘theirs’. And that some noises belong to more people than others. Language in general is strange. Names are tricky.

I have to respect my parents for naming six children. I couldn’t do that. It took me a year to name myself. And who knows me better than me?

I’m twenty-one now, and only just becoming the someone I wanted to be when I was four. Coming out as non-binary helped hugely, but something was still bothering me, and it took me a while to work out that it was my birth name. It felt uncomfortably feminine on me. It took me even longer to find a name that I 1) liked enough to hear every day for the rest of my life; 2) felt like it could realistically be me, and 3) that my friends thought suited me.

I chose Oleander (Oli for short) because, after so much thinking I never want to think again, I kept landing back on lists of floral and plant based names. I’ve always liked flowers. I’m getting a floral tattoo soon. My phone and laptop backgrounds are floral prints. My favourite items of clothing usually have a floral print on them. I used to (and sometimes still do) steal pretty flowers from strangers’ gardens so that I can look at them for longer. And unlike Rose or Lavender or Fleur or Pansy, Oleander didn’t have the distinctly feminine feel associated with most plants; at least not for me.

I started using it quietly. I asked my partner to call me Oli. About a week after this, while ordering coffee, the barista asked my name, and having practiced what I was going to say in my head about four hundred times, half-shouted ‘OLI!’. She said, ‘okay…’ and avoided eye contact with me for the rest of the transaction. When she finished my coffee and called out ‘Oli!’ I felt that pure rush of gender euphoria which is still exciting and new to me.

I’m an impatient person. I told my close friends the week after that; a couple of my siblings a few days later. I sent my parents a letter so I wouldn’t break down and cry when I told them.

I’m still becoming Oli, but I know now that I’m on the right path. Whenever someone says Oli my brain goes ‘!!! that’s me!!!”. With every passing day I feel more real, valid, and happy with who I am becoming.

Poetry dump

Me: you should set up a writing blog and post all the time!!
Me at me: or you could set up a writing blog and promptly forget about it…

This is late and I’d apologise, but honestly if you know me at all you’d know that leaving things till the last minute is my special talent. I should probably just set a reminder on my phone so I actually, like, remember to post here. Ah well. Probably won’t.

Anyway! I’ve got some poetry from a poetry topic I took last semester so, go ahead and read it if you want. Or don’t. You can make your own decisions. Unless you live in North Korea, I guess.


flowers on walls

all the feelings stuck inside of your head
they’re ready to break free by any means
stay very still, do not get out of bed
or your skin will pull apart at the seams
it’s warm and chilly and hot and freezing
anxieties trickle into your lungs
the open window lets the warm breeze in
you absorb others’ sadness like a sponge
does the beating ever stop to take breath
is there anything you can do to help
you see ahead the peace, the warmth of death
see white light (cliche) hear your old dog yelp

the madness rises, all the pain will fall
internal organs paint flowers on walls


broken brain fantasy

i get these visions in my head:
my skull is open, a clean line
circling my exposed, grey-pink brain
and, nestled in folds and creases —

— burnt pieces of a once good mind
i see myself calmly reach up
i shiver at the first touch of
cold, slimy exposed brain matter

my fingers slowly excavate
all the broken little pieces
and leave behind a me that works
my thin white hands close my skull shut

thick red scar across my forehead
i can really see myself now
how i should be, a real person
who understands how to just be.

 

i know it’s unrealistic;
not how neurosurgery works;
but it’s my little fantasy
that i see all the fucking time


Passing

‘Death must be so beautiful.’

peaceful solitary emptiness
a kind of quiet unfound
wished for, hoped for, the loneliness
practiced in dreams that end unwound

‘To lie in soft brown earth,’

warm and forgiving of all you did
ignoring your rights and wrongs
accepting all who are given to it
welcomed into a life you have longed

‘with grasses waving above one’s head,’

dancing to the music of the wind
holding the secrets of everyone past
keeping you warm, tucking you in,
and you are able to sleep at last

‘and listen to silence.’

a different kind of beautiful song
written by the beat of feet overhead
trickling forever slowly along
never quite getting stuck in your head

‘To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow.’

no wants, no needs, no happiness or relief
no wishes or dreams or goals or desires
no nightmares, fears, terrors, grief
no heat, no cold, no ice, no fire

‘To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace.’

forgotten memories lay you to rest;
you settle in and sleep your best.


Thank you Oscar Wilde for giving me inspiration & words for the last one. I’ll try and post again soon. “Soon”.