I want to say that the Midwest does not live in my body—instead I share that I was pulled from state to state five times before I was twelve. I share the first choice that was mine was to leave, to move to a city over ten times the population of smalltown, Indiana, known as home to the company that supplied Michael Jackson’s casket, and unironically teenage, we declared the town slogan should be, “Everyone is dying to live here.” From twelve to twenty-one I was saturated in a Midwest state of mind, I felt heavy, uncertain. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to inhabit a space that was bigger than me, where there were so many people moving and being that I could disappear, that I could slip out of the strange skin I had donned by default and slide into another, experimenting in and out and around bodies in order to find my own footing. I did this urgently. I scrambled to subsume myself in order to seek some kind of clarity, running from 6,000 towards 80,000 towards 178,000 towards 1.8 million in search of the safety promised by different bodies, by more bodies. And each time, I want to say that I came closer to knowing myself. I want to say that I had grown more expansive, more queer, more pleasure-seeking than my midwest self could stand to contain. I want to say that it’s easy, being back, that when I walk down these new small-town streets in this different midwestern town, that I feel safe. But still, I find it hard to breathe; the midwest clings to me like a forgotten favorite sweater—one I lived in then but the fabric festers against my skin now—somehow still smoke-soaked from almost decades distant nights of communion, of bonfires in the boonies, of boy-girl pair-offs. The smoke lives in my body…I can taste it, the pinewood tendrils curling eternally around my tongue, permeating my lungs, my cells. I inhale deeply and close my eyes. Nestled in the blackness in my periphery, little firecrackers languish too close by.
Brittany Brewer (she/her) is a queer writer, [theatre] artist, and educator who has lived and grown across eight states. Brittany is also the producer and host of no small parts podcast. She is an alumna of Indiana University, Brown University, and the Arden Professional Apprenticeship program. Currently, she lives in Michigan where she is also a doctoral student at Michigan State University. For more, follow Brittany on Twitter at @brittanymbrewer or visit www.brittanybrewer.com.