Blog post

A love that is home

 “I love you. We get to make up what that storied word means.” 

McKenzie Wark15 February 2024

A love that is home

Jenny, I wrote this for you, and you write back: We are here, we are healing, we are home—this strikes me as a tender, but weighted statement. I want to feel it. I monitor the together and apart of us. How much of myself is it safe to put here, outside the bed and the dance floor? I want a love that is home. That’s what love means to me, here at the end of the world. Here in the middle of my life. A home that will be there tomorrow. Even if it isn’t, I’m allowed to believe it.

We both have avoidance tactics. I’ve not felt safe to be vulnerable for a long time. And underneath even that, I’m still that sad, frightened little kid. Maybe home is where we don’t have to pretend that we’re not scarred by life. Where we don’t have to keep nursing the wounded part on our own, holding it away from each other. Thinking of you and me and us and that Ethel Cain song: I know it’s real when you call me home.

I met you on Tinder. I was living in Brooklyn most of the week, with a roommate. I felt free, but lonely—needing company, emotional or sexual. Flipping through dating apps, not getting matches. I erase my profiles and start over, shaving my age down from fifty-nine to forty-nine. (I passed for it.) Get matches. Tinder misadventures: when I say I’m trans, they say it’s OK because they are into kink. (Then ghost me.) They say they have several selves, only one of them female. (They all need a bath.) They need me to prove I wasn’t male-socialized. (I was and was good at it.) They scream when I gently squeeze a tit. (Not on hormones as long as claimed.) They declare they are neither romantically nor sexually attracted to me. (But want to fuck me anyway.) They want to fuck me out of curiosity because they’ve read my books. (Or maybe just heard of them.) They admit later they swiped right by accident. (But were charmed by my texting.) And then there’s those gentlemen who send dick pics…

When we match, I’m not hopeful. We have writing and books in common, so I propose a walking tour of Lower East Side bookstores. It’s a date. There’s a bookstore that sells pickles, and you buy pickles. You open the jar on the street as soon as we step out, to taste them right away. That’s the moment I feel. This simple act of claiming a pleasure. A glimpse of capacity for delight. I don’t know when you felt you wanted me. “You’re the kind of girl love always finds,” says my friend Pet. Maybe, but I so nearly fucked it up from the start. Lying about my age on Tinder, then not owning up to it. You caught me out in the most stupid way: I put my sixtieth birthday party on Insta. To which I hadn’t invited you. I’m lucky you were willing to persist with me. I’ve tried ever since to be as honest as is humanly possible, given that humans are animals that deceive firstly themselves.

It’s been more than a year now. Still going. I can’t tell the story of us, as it’s not a story; it’s a spiral, a situation, a rave. We go looking for the rave most weekends. We’re in our heads a lot. We’re that kind. We figured out how to make our weird brains work for us. New York is full of people like us. The ruling class needs us to keep spitting out our little twists on the common stock of information. Our weird brains are for sale. We get paid well enough for our weird brain labor. That’s how we pay these exorbitant rents. We need to be near other weirdos. Twisting together, in this city, or at least parts of it, where weirdness is common as breath. We’re in our heads a lot so need to get back into our bodies. We dance. Not just dance—we rave. Look around this dance floor: it’s weird brain workers, service workers, sex workers. We’re all dancing to the point where selves get lost.

I don’t want to say too much about you. Here’s just one detail I’ll share. That you feed the stray cats on your block. That you took them inside during a storm but set them free again. That you want them to live, but to live cat lives. I’ve said, I’ll say: I love you. We get to make up what that storied word means. The love that’s later in life. The love that’s queer-for- trans. The love across a twenty-year age gap. The love when a world is ending. I love you like breath, with the certainty with which the next breath comes. With the likelihood that my last breath comes long before yours.

We’ve both loved and been loved before. Maybe I was never much good at it, but I try. I’m in love with you. What comes into that, from the past, is what I’ve tried to learn. We’re not Romeo and Juliet, or even Juliet and Juliet. That myth. Can we live with the possibility that a love that is not innocent, not the hetero couple, not a privatizing turning away from the world —can be not less but far more? Can it be a home both just for us and also in the world? Let’s be home.

And then also: Can a transsexual love and be loved? That was a real question for me when I came out, when my marriage ended. The answer of course is yes, or rather, answers. There’s more than one kind of transsexual. And kind of love.

— An edited excerpt from Love and Money, Sex and Death: A Memoir by McKenzie Wark.

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Love and Money, Sex and Death
After a successful career, a twenty-year marriage, and two kids, McKenzie Wark has an acute midlife crisis: coming out as a trans woman. Changing both social role and bodily form recasts her relati...

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