Three neurodivergent trans queers with a shared love of 90s alternative rock and a penchant for deep conversation in a car for two months? Who doesn’t want to see how that turns out?
When Tori Amos released her album, Scarlet’s Walk in 2002, I was eighteen and had only recently moved out of home, directly into a live-in relationship with an older man. That relationship lasted fifteen years and I finally had the strength to end it when he was arrested and spent time in prison for a second time. Only when I was free could I admit to myself, and those around me, just how filled with emotional and financial abuse, coercive control and manipulation it was.
Now, in the 20th anniversary year of Scarlet’s Walk, I’m ready to unpack what I went through and write my story, both for myself, and hopefully to help others.
The album is a road trip so I’m recreating it as a way to frame my history. I’d lent so heavily on these songs, many of which had convinced me to stay. It turns out, I wasn’t paying attention. This album was everything I needed to hear, but it took me until I was no longer in the situation to understand. By then I knew the album back to front, so when I could move past my blockage, my misunderstandings, I got what she was saying all at once.
I plan to drive around America for two months reflecting on my own body map, the way my history is ingrained in me, I cannot erase those fifteen years, but maybe some good will come of them. The book I will write will be a memoir to add to the discussion around non-physical forms of abuse. I want it to be the type of book that if I’d read it in my teenage years, or even in the middle of that relationship, I may have had the knowledge/understanding/self-esteem to remove myself from the situation before it went as far as it did. That Scarlet’s Walk was the soundtrack to my life with him provides me with an angle to approach what has been too overwhelming for me to process in the five years since I left.
I’ll be joined on the journey by my partner, Teague and our Dear Friend Bayley. Teague will document the process visually as a photographer and Bayley will be a sounding board for me as I write, while she writes poetry.
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