Sassafras Lowrey: these words can’t wait for spell check
(Word Count: 478)
Stories come to me in sleep, in the hours before the dogs need me awake to fill their bowls and throw the balls. The stories break my heart and swallow me with lust. My writing comes from the place “where my dreaming and my loving live.” I wake with characters on my tongue, fingers itching for pen, for keyboard. The characters of my dreams beg me to write their stories. My dreams are a collage of images, people, places, known, forgotten, and imagined blurring together. The glue still wet, the newsprint tearing, the magazine pages rippled. I dream in cut/paste zines.
The stories first came to me at seventeen, in late nights on borrowed couches of the semi-stranger parents of my friends. The journal that incriminated me for my desires, that had left me homeless was smoldering in the wood-burning furnace. I swore I would never write again after what it cost me: home, family. Yet, the stories would not leave. These stories loved me when I did not yet know how to love myself, back when sex was easy and plentiful but before I could let anyone get close to my tenderest parts. Night after night they came to me. Writing gave me purpose when I was lost. I filled notebooks, published them with a purple typewriter (found in the goodwill bins where everything was just $2 a pound) both because it was zinester romantic and the printer for my computer kept jamming. The words would not wait for spell check. The stories had no patience for respectability politics, or editing. They were birthed by kinkos copy centers, and long-arm staplers. They wanted to travel the world first class, courtesy of the United States Postal System to punk houses, zine fests, and feminist bookstores.
The stories followed me in the waking dreams of youth center back rooms. The bike parts hanging from the ceiling, collapsing couches, drag queens on pallet board stages with drugstore makeup, communal dinners of $0.15 noodles. We built family. we told stories of where we came from, and where we were going. I wrote them down. Spray paint, tattoos, piercing needles, cum, and newsprint. I found kids like me, whispering and screaming the stories we’d been told to keep secret, and the worlds we were building together. The writing kept me company in the arms of bad lovers, and the nights I lay awake six queer punks restless in one studio apartment, a pile of snores and whimpers fogging the windows.
The stories stayed even after the wounds stopped seeping. All these years later and the stories haven’t left me. The deal I forged with them back on borrowed couches was that I would write our truths, the bodies, lives, worlds we lovingly dreamed into reality. The stories still visit my dreams reminding me of my promise. Each story I write is a love letter to our queer worlds.
Sassafras Lowrey is a straight edge punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Hir books—Lost Boi, A Little Queermas Carol, Roving Pack, Kicked Out and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with hir partner, and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Sassafras is an MFA student at Goddard College. Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com