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Miranda July / The Metal Bowl

An extract from The Metal Bowl by Miranda July

He cupped the two halves of my tush and spoke directly to them. “Run away with me, girls,” he whispered. “She doesn’t understand our love.”

I lay still, staring out the window, letting them have their time together. If I protested, I’d only make his case stronger: I’m less fun than my own butt. Which is not untrue. In my essence, I am a stone, unmoving for ten thousand years, unless picked up and moved. It’s not just sex; I find this whole experience—life—gratuitously slow and drawn out. See it crawl, second by fucking second. If I’m a workaholic, it’s only because I hate work so much that I’m trying to finish it, all of it, once and for all. So I can just ride out the rest of my life in some kind of internal trance state. Not a coma but, like, a step above that.

Our son, Sam, trotted in sleepily, and I warned him not to get in the bed: “It’s all bloody.” Alex quietly removed his hands from my body; he hadn’t noticed that I was bleeding. Sam pulled back the sheets and studied the mess, smiling giddily. “You got your period.”

“Yes.”

“You said it was coming soon and you were right!”

“Yep.”

This new generation of men has been taught (by me) to feel excited about the menstrual cycle. It’s like tadpoles turning into frogs or the moon that follows them wherever they go. I’ve been waiting a long time to have my period cheered on. More and more women my age have given up on our men and are getting together with millennials, youngsters raised by women who were born in the sixties, rather than the forties. I hear it’s great. Not a lot of hangups. But that isn’t an option for me because I need a man with a historical perspective that encompasses my whole lifetime. If anything, I regret not having met Alex sooner. If we had met at my birth and I had been able to assess how narcissistic my parents were, I could have left the hospital with Alex and got started on our relationship immediately. He would have been eight years old—young, but not too young to keep me alive. I need that in a man.

Sometimes my love for him is so intense that I want to crawl inside his body. I want him to be pregnant with me and never give birth, just hold me in. At other times, I wonder, Who is that guy? And why is he in my house? When I get that look on my face, he sticks out his hand and says, “Hi, I’m Alex. Your husband.”

Sam used his small pointing finger to tap each old bloodstain on the sheet; they dated back more than a decade, a disgusting constellation. It was one of those things you didn’t notice until suddenly you did. Like ants. Like everything.

Miranda July is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her most recent book is The First Bad Man, a novel. July’s collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has been published in twenty-three countries. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker; It Chooses You was her first book of non-fiction. She wrote, directed and starred in The Future and Me and You and Everyone We Know — winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. July’s participatory art works include the website Learning to Love You More (with artist Harrell Fletcher), Eleven Heavy Things (a sculpture garden created for the 2009 Venice Biennale), New Society (a performance), and Somebody (a messaging app created with Miu Miu.) Most recently she made an interfaith charity shop in Selfridges department store in London, presented by Artangel. She is currently working on a new feature film. Raised in Berkeley, California, July lives in Los Angeles.

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