TMI Project: Life Lines – Queer Stories of Survival | Ray Long

(ethereal piano and string music) – I look down at my feet as I kick them against the
brick wall underneath me. I just moved into a
house across the street from the University of Memphis. It’s summer, so campus is pretty bare. I like walking the empty paths alone. It’s peaceful. It’s one of the only
times I enjoy the quiet. Today, I find myself on top of
the six-story parking garage. The summer breeze up here
cuts the humidity down and it feels nice on my face. I lean against the wall
before I climb up onto it, stand, and look down. After about 10 minutes of
feeling the breeze on my face, I decide to sit. Just for a moment. I came home from work to my
roommates giving me a hard time. They always give me a hard time
about something or another. I’m never good enough for them. I moved to Memphis specifically for them. But once I arrived, they cut
me off from people completely and wouldn’t let me leave the house. When I eventually got a job
they let up a bit, but not much. I still need to check in
everyday, all the time. I hate it. It’s the reason why I
love my evening walks. I’m alone. I hate being alone except right now. Right now, all I want is to be alone. For the first time in a long
time my brain is silent. That never happens. Maybe that just goes to show that my decision is the right one. The breeze feels nice though. It’s calm and refreshing. Everything I haven’t been
feeling in my life lately. For the first time since I
arrived here I feel at peace. I pull up my phone, I want to text my mom I miss her more than anything. I know I hurt her when
I impulsively moved here with no plan in place. I feel bad. And I feel bad that I’ll
never get to hug her again and tell her I’m sorry. I hope she forgives me
for what I’m about to do and doesn’t blame herself. It’s not her fault I’m here. I’m the one that put myself here. Maybe I should tell her… Maybe I should text her and tell her. I unlock my phone. A webpage is up. I’m surprised. The campus WiFi usually doesn’t
reach all the way over here. Earlier I saw a sticker on a light pole for the Trevor Project. I love stickers. (laughter) I thought it was a theater thing. It’s not. (laughter) I lay my phone in my lap
and look over the campus. I sigh. I look back down on the webpage
and click the phone number. It automatically dials
and my phone prompts me, “Do you want to call this number?” I stare at the prompt. I don’t know, do I? I mean, I guess I do since
I clicked the number. I hit “Yes,” put the phone on speaker, set it on the wall next to me. Someone picks up. I don’t remember much of the actual call. At some point I asked,
“Why do I feel this way?” The person on the other end said, “I can’t answer that question.” Then I asked, “Is there more to this world “than where I am in my life right now?” They said something I will never forget. “You are worth more
than just this moment.” I remained silent. I sit with that and
they sit there with me. They let me sit in silence. They don’t hang up, they don’t
prompt me to keep talking. They just let me sit in silence. Eventually, I pull my legs to
the other side of the wall. My feet are now planted on the ground. I grab my phone and hold it. “Thank you,” I whisper. I’m surprised I can even speak. I don’t want them to know
I’m crying for some reason. I want them to seem that
I’m stronger than I feel. I hang up a few minutes later and I sit on the roof for another hour. Eventually the wind dies down
and the humidity increases. It’s too hot. So I walk back to the house
where my roommate is drunk and yelling at me,
asking me where I’d gone and why I wasn’t answering
their texts and phone calls. I go to my room and I lock my door. Not tonight. (applause)

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