The story of a name.
I started calling myself Muffy for no reason.
No, that’s not right.
I started calling myself Muffy because I was tired of being Lacy, the name my mom gave me, my mom being a person that I do not like.
For the ten years previous, things had been so-so. I had a really bad eating disorder. That ended after some time and I was instantly bored by the space that abstaining from slowly killing myself created. I got really, really into lifting weights, I became a personal trainer, I wanted to own a gym, I thought more than anything, I just needed my own gym.
I raised $25,000 with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm around the idea that there was absolute need for a queer fitness space, MY queer fitness space. It took months to get the business partner and the permits and the logo and the equipment and the website but eventually, the doors were open. Eventually, all my space could be filled.
I desperately wanted to publish a book. I wrote feverishly about my most embarrassing secrets, the whole story of my eating disorder and my recovery and all that came in between. The release day for the novel was a month after the gym opened. I emailed Powell’s, Portland’s biggest bookstore, and asked if I could do a reading. They said yes and with a podium and a projector and a room full of folding chairs, I cried my eyes out with gratitude. My book was here. My book was here. My book was here.
I wanted to get married, to have someone say they’d love me forever. No one else had done such a thing before and I wasn’t sure if anyone ever could, but K was up for the challenge. K said he’d try. I wanted to buy a house in Portland, K got an inheritance and we closed on a cute tiny thing, kinda far out but not too far.
I had a home. I had a home. I had a home.
I was married. I had a gym. I had a book. I should have been happy.
I was not happy.
As Lacy, I wanted, so feverishly wanted, only the most concrete things to establish my life as well lived, to prove to myself and others that I existed.
The thing is, though- Concrete is sturdy, but concrete is not invincible.
I’d made a name for myself doing, doing, doing- doing so many things. I had no real feeling for anything that I had done, all the things I had done felt like a fortress I was trapped inside of, like an unhappy life I could not escape.
And so then what? I did not want to be stuck, I was too young to give up on having a life that felt right. There was nothing left to do but undo what I had built. At first I tried to carefully disassemble it brick by brick, and then I got impatient and blew it all up at once.
In a sense, I changed my name because I am a fucking dyke.
I am a dyke, I want to shout from the roof top that I am a dyke. I fuck like a dyke, moaning into the abyss of the hole*. I obsess about my little dog like a dyke, micromanaging her kibble- it shouldn’t be grain free, grain free is bad for little dogs, but also grain free is fine as long as peas aren’t in the first seven ingredients, talk to your vet about it! It’s all very nuanced and specific and a little bit confusing, but I am willing to stay on top of each piece of new research because MY DOG IS MY CHILD. That’s the kind of dyke that I am.
I am vegan and gluten-free like a dyke, I have been more or less since the year 2003, and no, I don’t have celiac, of course I don’t have celiac. I have garden variety IBS, just like every other 37 year old woman of a certain persuasion, and gluten makes me fart, though sometimes I decide that it is worth it and eat a piece of pizza or a pretzel or a donut anyway. I do this on evenings when I know I will be alone and then I fart my gross farts under the covers until even my dog won’t stick close to me. Once in awhile I find it worth it to watch her wriggle herself away.
I listen to the same song over and over again like a dyke. This one song, Born to Bond, specifically. My old roommate once walked by my room when I was listening to it on repeat and she looked me hard in the face and said “this is SO gay, I just cannot.”
After she said this, she rolled her eyes and walked away.
I am a dyke and the thing about the marriage I wanted so badly is that it was to a cis man. I’ve fucked a shit ton of people in my life, women and non-binary folks and cis men too. I’ve dated just about everyone, but this one was different because I somehow decided that forever would be fine. He was very nice and good, and cute too. I thought it would be fine to be forever with him, because what is forever anyway? Who cares?!
Forever was seven years, and it wasn’t fine. I felt the dyke inside of me like a wild horse bucking in her stall, rearing and rearing and rearing, straining to be free.
A year and a half before I left I got a giant tattoo that said WOMEN on my upper arm. I just meant it in the general sense of the word, I liked women, who didn’t? But also, I meant it in the sapphic sense of the word. I needed gay sex. If I was honest with myself, what I needed was gay sex.
I could probably have guessed that no matter how I sliced it, a cis man wasn’t going to work indefinitely. I pretended the tattoo was an homage to my grandmother and my sister and Dorothy Allison and Assata Shakur and my best friend Monica. That women were just so cool that I needed to think of them every day in a completely non sexual yet totally devoted way.
I got really into manicures six months before I left K. and for some reason I got BOY BYE painted in dripping swirls, a letter on each nail. That was just a Beyonce lyric though, right? I was happily married. Boy Bye was like a metaphor, man. Quit Taking Everything So Literally I said when my husband raised his eyebrows in response. GOD.
Eventually, I looked at the tattoo and the nails and my obsessive crush on a writer I barely knew, one who wrote almost exclusively about the women she loved. There was a LOVE candle gently burning on my dresser, the writer’s name was carved into it with a sewing needle. I liked Jen, too. And Denver. And a girl at the coffee shop, I didn’t know her name, but I really really liked her.
I had been a dyke for a long time and eventually I decided to just let myself really be a dyke.
I used YouTube to teach myself how to do cat eye liquid liner. I quit the gym that I owned, I had to give six months notice to be free of the contract and file for bankruptcy to get the landlord off my back, but energetically I bounced immediately, they could have my body but they could not have my spirit. K and I split, it was excruciating and it was correct. I couch surfed, carting my dog and my love candle from basement room to house sit to couch. I owned almost nothing and I didn’t fucking care because I was free.
I became obsessed with stupid names. Sloan, Gigi, CiCi, DeeDee, Buffy. I didn’t want to be the person that had worked very hard for various things and then didn’t want anything they’d strived for. How can a self stay the same when ripping the skin off to reveal the pink glossy muscle and elastic cartilage of a brand new life? I wanted a stupid name because leveling a whole life was a truly stupid move, but stupid seeming women are often secretly the smartest people in the room. I respect the choice to let oneself be brilliant and to have the audacity to make decisions that other people inevitably will think are dumb.
I named myself Muffy for no reason, I guess.
I also named myself Muffy in order to live a Muffy style life.
A life where I just accept what’s true about me, and what’s true is that I can be inconsistent but the one thing that I can guarantee is that I am always destined to change.
I trust myself, as Muffy, to make that work. I don’t have to get married. I don’t have to buy a house. I don’t have to own a gym.
I’d still like to write.
I’d still like to be a dyke.
I’d still like to obsess about the kibble that my little dog eats.
The thing about that, though, is I can do those things at any time, in any place, with any one and anything else on my mind. I love that about being me.
The stuff that really matters to me can go anywhere.
Okay that’s it for today. This story is sort of true, but sort of not. The people that matter to me can’t always go anywhere, but that’s a different conundrum for a different day.
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*I used the term “hole” very generally, don’t be a TERF!