â€œI think that’s the number one most valuable life skill, running,â€ I say as I flop down on her bed.
She’s a stripper from the rain forest who came to Alaska to get away from an abusive man, but now she wants to go back. I’m proud of her for running at all. So many people don’t. I don’t know what makes some people willing to pack up and run in an instant when their life is threatened, and other people completely frozen, refusing to take the smallest step towards safety, but I am fascinated by it.
I think I’m predisposed to running. I’ve been doing it since I was little. Even before I can remember my mom tells me about two year old me taking off with a team of two dogs, her tracking us through the winter darkness. The kind of running where you go back doesn’t count though, except maybe as practice. My real running, the kind where I didn’t go back, didn’t start until I was fifteen and realized, really realized, that I would probably die if I went back. So I didn’t go back, and I didn’t call, and I didn’t listen. I think it goes against our evolution, to cut ourselves off from someone we love. Could you do it? Could you miss him every day and never call? After the first time that piece of evolution was broken in me and I had no problem running away from an abusive sugar momma in Texas, a controlling religion in Oregon, a wanna be father figure in California who chased me around with a knife. It became easy, leaving and not looking back.
â€œWell I ran like my life depended on it,â€ she says, her eyes full of irony. Soon what is broken in me will be broken in her, and it is good. Her life depends on it.
She’s rubbing cocoa oil into her skin, all shiny blue black and tight, like a blueberry. I just got out of her shower, and I’m rubbing coconut oil into mine. It is beautiful like a sacred dancer ritual and she invites me to meditate with her before I give her a ride to work.
In the dressing room the women behind me talk about how strippers are light workers, and how their psychics told them they weren’t from here. They are aliens from Angelic Realms, and this comforts them. The dirt comforts me, my feet in the dirt, and I try to close myself to their comfort of dissociation. Strippers are dirt workers, I tell myself, blending purple and silver above my eyes. Dirt and sexuality.
The first men I sit with are baseball officiates, and they sneer at me, â€œyou just want our money, don’t you.â€
I’m a dirt worker, and I understand sometimes people are afraid to get their feet dirty, to trust earth without shoes. â€œActually I saw you guys sitting over here all by yourselves and I came over to keep you company. Where are you from?â€
Then their feet are in the dirt, and they like it. Soon one of them peels off a hundred dollar bill and tells me to dance for the other.
â€œI’ve had a bad day,â€ he whispers as I climb into his lap, and then he tells me about his son and his wife back home who called today to say she wouldn’t be there when he got back. I keep moving, brushing up against him, until he is fully in his body, which is much like putting your feet in the dirt. Ever since I’ve been using the Iris the muscles in my cunt are all happy and strong so that when I tighten them to move my pelvis they twinge and convulse in happy little ways. He buys more dances, and more, and then some for his friend, and then I have to go on stage.
The stage is half full of Seattle men, and Seattle men just never work for me. They bite. I’m serious. But I lose myself in the music and my skin, and crawl around the stage collecting dollars. When I get to the last man, the man with Davka, he gestures to her and tells me that she’s been explaining sex positive to him. â€œYes,â€ she grins, â€œTara was my first sex radical.â€ I laugh, take the dollar, keep moving.