My legs still hurt from rehearsal and my mouth still tastes like your mouth. Tonight my father told me that I don’t have grit in my soul. It was said like an explanation, not an insult, followed up with “I’m on your side.”
Maybe my soul is deficient in grit. Maybe grit would be studying on the nights I choose to read or write. Maybe it would be punching all the people I want to punch and saying to hell with restraint, I don’t know. Children who are born in slums always develop it so maybe it comes from feeling like you have to fight for everything you have. Survivors of mass genocides, or stray dogs, or stray dogs that survived mass genocides. Grit.
I got my soul cheap, lacking these essential parts.
My fingernails are sprouting fingernails. Exam week isn’t kind. That’s the other thing that bothers me about the grit comment, because I worked hard these past few weeks, you know? I rarely thought of anything else. I scribbled dates on flashcards and filled out packets, and rarely did I bend for the ever present “why?” It takes a lot for me not to question why I do things. In theatre it’s called “find your motivation.” Frequently I discover that I have none, but continue on my merry course anyway.
If I’m not gritty enough, then, it’s certainly not lack of effort. It’s not hereditary either, my family cranks out grades and commendations and acceptances. Is there something I didn’t do. Tell me what I didn’t do and I’ll do it.
Or else I’m focused elsewhere. I hate that about myself, actually. I wish I was Here more. I wish I was gritty like a tattered photograph, or the bedroom with the posters and the cigarette butts that you criticized.
The good news is that I never have to go back to Satan’s lavatory ever again. After my gym exam (gym exam? really?) I flew out into the rain and jumped into Francesca’s car and waved goodbye to the greenhouse, the madhouse, the shuffle of chains. The whole year felt like a dream that I wasn’t really living, and no matter what I did I could never wake up — not fully. I had no camera so nothing was captured, and no one there captured me. It might as well have all been a scrap of my mind’s cruel invention.
Is grit the capacity for waking up? Is grit paying attention when there are other worlds to contemplate?
Imagine if global shrinking was a hot political issue instead of global warming. Annually our planet decreased in size by half an inch. Gradually. Every year. So maybe by the year three billion, star crossed lovers on separate continents would be able to touch fingers. Maybe cities would be stacked together and everyone would be breathing down each others’ neck. Our planet wouldn’t go dark when the sun exploded. It would simply shrink and disappear into nothing at all.
Sometimes I would like to execute my own shrinking. Look around for a second at the sweaty faces playing doubles, shooting hoops. Spend a night next to the girl in Peru swatting away flies and insecurities, listening to the pitter patter of a familiar face in a faraway bed.
I bet you have lots of interesting thoughts. When I look at you I try to piece them together, and often I think I might have brushed one. Our eyes meet and it’s awkward or else I look away and trip. Over words, feet or flat ground. I can never sparkle for very long. Never when I need to.
So I’ll be gritty, and I’ll stop making wishes. Grit doesn’t wish, it moves. Like dancers don’t stop to think before launching their bodies in the air all graceful like.
I’ll be gritty and I’ll blow out all my wishes.