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  • "I believe that freedom and human dignity are more precious than life itself."
    - Sami Al-Arian

    I wasn't even going to go - the bus was late, and it costs 25 cents more now, and I've started to grow fond of Bigfoot's look. And even more fond of not being late, of not fucking up, of not not fitting in. I knew I would give her my last 30 bucks, 30 bucks more short of the already shorted rent, and that it would not be enough - enough to say, you're a pro (and after all you've fought through), and I'm glad for your life.

    But that's what I wanted to say to her, and to myself, so I got on the late bus, in faith.

    Big hug, recognition, love, third confab - that is the barely palpable answer to faith.

    She carefully lined my neck with the tissue collar, then dressed me in the plastic haircut cape, pumped the chair down, and clearly communicated the questions I needed to answer, in all her rad-ness, down to her calf-high Doc Martens and her brick house frame, listening and reconfirming my responses with humble but assured confidence, peppering our time with check-ins about the sideburns, the tail, the length and thickness on the top, the razor size for the sides, the shape of the mullet hawk - the shape of the reminder of who we are, the meaning, the reformation, the putting back together after so much gaslighting, so many tiny breaks in isolation against a very stiff, un-empathetic wall.

    She told me she was cutting the drums because school and work were enough, that she's been doing mediation for the bike collective, and that she got married, and her face lit up like a dripping summer plum trying to hold it in. They eloped on a roller coaster, with one rehearsal ride. They held hands, trembling together with the pulleys going up. They vowed at the apex, they kissed before the boom of fireworks, and the story from her body quietly screams, I. Am. In. Love. Her wife's name is J.P., and J.P. is an artist, who is not just open to weirdos, but embraces each weirdness as her own. The plum drips a little on the back of the chair.

    Now, I am not a marriage advocate. But I would go so far as to kill anyone who got in the way of love - call it marriage or do not - paperwork, and words, only bring unearned social benefits and slavery. They will never make you look like a dripping summer plum - and no one, or me, looks like a dripping summer plum.

    So when she leans against me inadvertently to get closer to her work, and our chatty close club subsides in favor of deliberate, meticulous, joyous, thorough craft, meditation, humming, the odd joke or logistic, her insistence that she wash my hair, her attention to water temperature and massaging my scalp, and the feeling of passing love, I am grateful that a dripping summer plum still exists, and that the image of it reminds me that freedom and human dignity look like a dripping summer plum.

    Two plus hours of undivided attention later, and I am restored to someone who looks like the superhero needed to keep up the fight for our right to look like plums soaking in our own sweet juices. I am looking in the mirror she triumphantly hands me as she spins the chair around, and seeing her love of all things, but especially of giving and receiving, through a perfect, badass haircut - a haircut which wardrobes and life and meaning must be arranged around - the same love of all things I have felt through giving and receiving food. I give her my money, and she accepts my mandate to make dinner for her and her wife with a huge smile and hug to match. She snaps my profile and back. "You will be on the internet." No matter. I am heading back toward possession of myself.
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