Naked | Teen Ink


March 9, 2015
By ClaireM. ELITE, Albany, New York
ClaireM. ELITE, Albany, New York
109 articles 14 photos 33 comments

I live in pursuit of exposure, soul-baring, the practice of being what we are without apology. Every person is different. No one else carries our specific memories or desires. No body is formed exactly like ours. We play at oneness, but shared experience only stretches so far. In the end, we are left with the reality of what this really is—a colony of beings, endlessly individual, utterly separate.

Sometimes, I catch snippets of the flare inside us.

Maybe it’s the boy with the pegasus tattoo laughing outside in smashing cold. Maybe it’s the parting words of the librarian as I scrape my pile of books off the counter: Take care. Maybe it’s the eyes of the old woman at the corner of this street and the next, so clear and penetrating, an elephant queen’s. Maybe it’s as simple as the wisdom offered to me by a friend, as quiet as a man tipping his face toward thin, Decemberish sunshine.

I hunt for it. I await its presence. Where is it, I wonder? Where’s that throbbing openness I covet so fiercely? When I am feeling especially aware, I see it everywhere. Beneath these layers of makeup I apply to my face. Behind the gloss of sitcom utopia. Under the practiced apathy of all of us, under our coats and scarves and skin, curled up over our hearts, in tangled love with our veins and aortas. A luminous octopus, a sort of eight-limbed brilliance.

It’s there, yes. Indubitably.

Tell me what shakes you.

Tell it to me like you would tell someone you are in love with them. Be trembling and slashed-open. Be frightened. Stop clutching your facade together. Don’t grip it so tightly. It cannot contain you; let it pass away.

Tell me what elevates you.

Is it the warm burn of your favorite song? The tin-gray feathers on a starling’s belly? Bonfires in autumn? Say it now. Quickly. Without pausing to make it coherent or acceptable. Be as jagged as you like. Give up the dream of normal. You’re dirt and madness and screaming beauty--normal is never going to fit you. It pulls on you already, pinches your elbows and upper back like an old, ill-fitting sweater. Loosen your fingers. Let it fall.

Tell me what moves you.

What climbs into your cells and bones and tells you to inhale, to make something of your precious time? Speak it. Speak it, and it will wash over you like a great blaze, and it will feel good, better than you knew possible. It will feel like being alive, which is what you are. Not flawless or bad or worthy or weird. Alive.

A deep, continual sweetness of breath.

I am a creature of unearthly peculiarity and I will not pretend otherwise.

I am sore muscles, burned food, lit windows of houses I’ve seen while standing out in the cold, dead leaves underfoot, dreams of shoulder blades pushed against plaster and a lump in my throat, catching someone check their reflection when they think no one’s looking, running after an ice cream truck, airplanes crossing the sun, laughter shooting from the chest, vehicles racing along pavement, the tenderness of the air this morning, shadows stretching across snow, my gut fluttering when we’re alone together, poems I write in which nothing is true, the migration of birds, lights dimmed and all the music turned up, constellations of stars I will never know the names of, my thoughts chattering to no one, driving on ice with a pounding heart, dragonflies and thunderstorms with one ear-bud in, a head on a shoulder, hugs tight enough to hurt, swerving to avoid strangers in the street, poetry read on full eyes and an empty stomach, fruitless fantasies of mirrored longing, waking in the middle of the night to move through the house while everything’s soft and quiet, leaning into things with base violent passion, strawberries picked in August, things I want but will never have, great numbing beauty, laying back on an unmade bed, laughing and sobbing like a moron, hands flying to my face, hurling rocks into the navy monotony of the ocean, electric jealousy, inhaling dust of old books, euphoric indie riffs, photographs pinned to my walls, jogging to catch up with a new friend, spilled milk and a cool pillow at the end of every day, shifting seasons, happiness louder than bombs, lungs full of breath, affluxes of glitter in my eyes, a roar building in the space around me, love and love and love.

I’ve spit words onto pages I later tore up. I’ve run into the mid-October ocean and shouted at the cold pooling around my ankles. I’ve cried at the death of a bee. I’ve thought of taking a sharp edge to my flesh because I could not bear to be the person I am. I’ve said ridiculous things. I’ve walked beneath ambulatory stars and felt great, expansive joy at the fact of my existence. I’ve pinched the wobble of my upper thighs, the places on my body that are round and soft, been ashamed of it. I’ve written things that will never see daylight, because they are too indicative of the darkness I carry with me. I’ve been very loud and very, very bright. I’ve bled. I’ve changed. I’ve danced so hard I thought I would die, and laughed afterward, laughed and laughed.

This is my power.

This, too, is yours.

It feels like hell, I know.

Nobody ever likes saying I want you or I need you or I am afraid or I love you or this is who I am. In the moment, the fear is nauseating. In the moment, we are small as children, and just as breakable. But you have to trust the majesty of vulnerability. You have to trust that even though your throat is a vice and your heart is jumping like a wild creature—these things you’re admitting—they’re reaching through.

People are listening.

Their souls are shifting into resonance with yours and you are there, standing together in your sincerity, all the armor gone, all the light rushing in.

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This article has 6 comments.

ClaireM. ELITE said...
on Mar. 23 2015 at 11:03 pm
ClaireM. ELITE, Albany, New York
109 articles 14 photos 33 comments
Thank you so so so much. You have no idea how much this means to me. I wrote it from the pits of my own exposure and creating anything from that place is frightening and euphoric beyond words, so I'm very glad someone else could relate. I love you heartfuls.

JRaye PLATINUM said...
on Mar. 23 2015 at 7:21 pm
JRaye PLATINUM, Dorr, Michigan
43 articles 10 photos 523 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you."

"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, 'I just don't care.'?"

Okay, listen here Claire - You do NOT understand how much this touched me. Normally, such LONG articles bore me, but your voice is so moving and inspiring and real, you kept me listening and engaged the entire time; like you were singing from a mountaintop (okay, that's a bit exaggerated but meh I like it okay :)). This is really a beautiful topic to write about, and you delivered flawlessly. Sorry if this sounds like a bunch of rambling - and Thank you for sharing this with Teenink.

ClaireM. ELITE said...
on Mar. 22 2015 at 4:34 pm
ClaireM. ELITE, Albany, New York
109 articles 14 photos 33 comments
Thank you angel!

on Mar. 21 2015 at 5:54 pm
theblondechick GOLD, Kingsport, Tennessee
14 articles 0 photos 104 comments

Favorite Quote:
I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life.
And I am horribly limited.
-Sylvia Path

Raw. Profound. Beautiful. Goosebumps.

ClaireM. ELITE said...
on Mar. 21 2015 at 4:58 pm
ClaireM. ELITE, Albany, New York
109 articles 14 photos 33 comments
Thank you so much, dear. This comment is divine.

on Mar. 21 2015 at 7:41 am
Ray--yo PLATINUM, Kathmandu, Other
43 articles 2 photos 581 comments

Favorite Quote:
God Makes No Mistakes. (Gaga?)
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." -Liesel Meminger via Markus Zusac, "The Book Thief"

^ another reason why you're one of my favourites on TeenInk. I had first copied some lines to tell you how delightful they were, but they became so many that I thought I'd simply tell you, the entire piece is incredibly poetic and elegant in its rawness. You truly have a gift.