One of the things I have loved most about derby is how incredible the community is. I’ve spoken about it before, you walk into a rink with a few dozen women and feel like you’re home. Or at least, at home I feel that way. I have family there. I’m among my peers.
It took me a little while to get there. At first, the fact that I was surrounded by doctors and lawyers and people who were doing real things, felt really overwhelming to the part of my brain that still doesn’t know how to answer when people say “So, what do you do?”
“Well, I’ve spent 20 years trying to get a 4 year degree, and I’m disabled . . . Ummm, ummm . . .I’m trying to figure out what’s next.”
But eventually, they told me they wanted me around enough times that the doubting part of my brain started to actually believe it, and now, I walk into that skating rink and I know that I’m one of them, even on the days that my brain tells me I’m not.
And then I show up at something bigger like this and I’m reminded that I’m alone.
In the real world, my bright pink hair becomes a conversation starter. My outfits put people at ease when I nervously start talking to complete strangers for no apparent reason about completely off the wall topics that most people avoid. Those conversations help me connect to people in ways that most people don’t. I offer insight and information that most people don’t have. I end up with little connections everywhere. I’m awkward but it lets me own it.
This is derby. I blend here. But also, everyone runs in packs and I’m alone for a good part of the day while Wonder Woman is NSOing. It feels like every time I sit down to watch a game, someone is going to end up talking about that girl who was sitting alone acting awkward and eventually it will be figured out that I’m the only one here that’s alone among a thousand other people.
I’m also not all that into derby right now. I enjoy NSOing when my brain cooperates, but mostly, I don’t have the concentration to just sit and watch. I barely have the concentration to make it through a conversation.
I’m here because I wanted to do it back before I crashed. Back before I lost my concentration again.
I came anyway because it isn’t safe for me to be home alone all weekend. I needed a babysitter because I couldn’t be alone.
So instead, I’m in a car alone, listening to the rain, feeling alone in a group of people knowing that if my fucking brain would shut up, I could probably have a decent time like I did at BOTAS, but instead this feels like a punishment because I’m sick. And I know that it isn’t like that. I know I could have stayed home but I know that would have been a horrible idea for me. Right now I’m not sure if this was the right idea either.
I hate my dumb brain. I’m not suicidal, I’m not even horribly depressed or manic. I’m anxious as hell, I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m exhausted.
I’m alone even though I know I’m surrounded by people in so many ways.
I’m alone even though I’m not.