The text of “Friends With Benefits”

Friends With Benefits

Jae Nichelle

 

My anxiety and I have what some would call a friends with benefits relationship.

We have no love for each other but she still just

fucks with me sometimes you know?

 

She and  I moved in together some years ago.

We have inside jokes.

Like when I say “I’m gonna go talk to that person over there”

my anxiety looks at me and is like “bitch, please”

 

My anxiety is the reason I didn’t talk to you.

She’s possessive.

She doesn’t like me talking to other people.

 

She’s irrational.

Because of her

I’ll take the long way to my building to avoid someone I’ve passed already

Because I don’t know the limit on how many times you can say “hey–”

 

Because of her

I don’t correct servers who get my order wrong at restaurants I just eat it

because maybe sweet potato fries are what I wanted

But the broccoli you gave me is what I needed? Thank you.

 

Because of her

I’ll take the long the way to my building to avoid someone

who kind of looked like my ex boyfriend.

Because when I hand her the aux cord,

She makes sure to play back all the times

He told me no one else would ever want me

 

Because of her

I still think no one else will ever want me

 

I constantly wonder

What happens to a black girl who is too anxious

To ever feel like magic?

can she still be fly

with wings that tremble?

Can she forget the lifestyle of an ant?

The fear that no matter what she does she is in danger of being crushed

What I’m trying to say is

My anxiety doesn’t like to be made into metaphors

but she is constantly reminding me of how easy I am to crush.

 

As I speak,

I am pushing against her weight on my shoulders

and that is why I shake sometimes.

 

I have to fight

To stand up straight

To stop rocking

 

She and I picked out this outfit together. Something that dries fast.

 

If I am sweating

It is because standing on this stage

Is like fighting a boxing match that you can’t even see

and I am determined to knock her out.

I’ve been fighting her for control of our house, for years.

fighting to not crack

Stop rocking.

Dont shake.

Breathe.

 

I think

the reason that my relationships don’t work out

is because no one knows they’re signing up for a threesome

 

I understand.

I know how hard it is to live with both of us.

 

When we don’t like feeling out of control.

we don’t handle conflict well

we don’t handle being yelled at well

everything you say to us will be repeated and deconstructed in our head a million times after

and if I am silent for a while,

it is because I have to fight with her before I can fight with you.

I have tried to cut her off before.

I cannot.

 

We do not handle separation well.

Because of our parents,

I mean our ex

I mean our friends

 

Breathe.

So I guess

My anxiety and I just learned to live together.

 

She is the longest relationship I have ever had.

She is the only relationship I can count on.

 

 

watch the video here

Home is where

This speaks to me on a spiritual level every time I pass this sign on my campus.

So being myself I wrote a poem about it:

 

Once.

I built an entire city out of paper.

I made a village for earthworms in my backyard. 

 

I never realized how obsessed with building I was.

How obsessed with creating places for things to live.

I remember how my little brother and I used to dominate the living room on weekends

with forts crafted from pillows and blankets

Once.

And it didn’t matter that we couldn’t sit up straight in them

It didn’t matter that we could only see the TV out of a little hole

It didn’t matter that they fell down each night while we slept

It just mattered that it was ours

 

I wonder why I always felt the need to make homes.

I wonder why my writing is my newest way to do so

I have always felt somewhat displaced,

constructing a space for myself out of metaphors

and fitting myself in between pages

using soft words as new pillows for my fort.

It does not matter that I watch them fall down each night around me

It does not matter that I cannot sit up straight in them.

 

 

Jae