On Cheryl’s Birthday, Femme Earrings, and Social Media
I’ve returned from Dark Odyssey’s Summer Camp, which was phenomenal and I have so much to say about it, like all the retreat/weekends I’ve been on lately—and since there’s so much to say it’s so much harder to say it, because I get overwhelmed, so I don’t write anything at all. The weather at Summer Camp—cloudy, sometimes rainy, not very warm—was excellent for my butch outfits (v-neck sweater or sweater vest over button down and a tie, suit jacket, leather jacket, jeans, boots) but not so excellent for Kristen’s outfits, who wanted to bring sundresses and the tiny little bow shirt but instead brought jeans and boots and sweater dresses, no less sexy but less exhibitionist fun perhaps. I mention that mostly because someone asked. But thankfully the sun was out when we had a quick portrait session with Stacie Joy, so there might be some shots of Kristen’s (gorgeous) tits in the future, we’ll see how they turn out.
My processing of the fourth amazing erotic retreat/weekend in three months is derailed a little bit by today’s date: it’s Cheryl’s birthday. Nicole Fix, who spoke at Cheryl’s memorial, wrote a lovely piece for GO magazine about it.
This weekend, at a lovely moment in bed, I don’t remember which one, Kristen was wearing these hoop earrings in square shapes, and I suddenly had a strong remembrance of exactly their source. I didn’t want to interrupt the moment, but I felt a strong surge of emotion, grief and sadness and the tragedy of it all.
Later, when we were just chatting, I said, “I love those earrings. Do you remember where they came from?”
She had shadows in her eyes right away. “Cheryl.”
“Yes,” I had taken them from Cheryl’s jewelry collection, when I was helping Kelli clean out Cheryl’s apartment, to give to Kristen. Cheryl was known for her hoops, one of her signature looks, along with her red lipstick, and I snagged a lot of the ones that Cheryl wore regularly. “But also, I gave them to her. On her birthday last year, you and I bought them together, but I picked them out. We brought them to Sideshow along with some little cupcakes.” I’m kind of good at picking out jewelry. I love that skill, love being able to provide just the right thing for the femmes in my life. I’m glad Kristen has some of her jewelry, but sometimes it’s shocking and catches me off guard.
We held each other in silence for a few minutes, remembering. That was such a great night. Sideshow was just starting to take off. We had a fabulous line up, Back to School. I miss Sideshow. Cheryl hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer yet. No one knew that would be her last birthday.
“Wasn’t that about a year ago?” Kristen asked. We couldn’t remember Cheryl’s exact birth date, but it was in the fall, right? Was it September or October Sideshow?
When I got back to my computer this morning, the first thing in my Facebook feed was all sorts of folks posting on Cheryl’s wall, “happy birthday!” as if they don’t know. As if they were wishing her to have a happy, celebratory day. I know that’s what Facebook does—”so and so has a birthday today, wish them a happy birthday”—and that’s how folks respond, by doing what a social network program automatically tells them what to do, so the response becomes “happy birthday,” regardless of the relationship or the knowledge we may have missed in the last few months.
I cringed, and teared up, but more than that feel protective of Kelli, and of Cheryl becoming some sort of public persona/domain figure which people don’t really know, but on to which they project. Apparently that is an ongoing problem for close friends who have died, especially in the queer/performance worlds. This is new for me.
Thinking a lot of Cheryl lately, and especially today. I miss her so much.