At Temporal Enfolding: The New Futurity of Queer Nostalgia Conference

When a scholar says, “always already,” I want
to dig through my purse, but I don’t
carry a purse so I scribble notes. My notes
read “always already a face” or “always already
effaced.” My handwriting is so terrible that,
as a child, I was sent to occupational therapy

to try to hit a tether ball using a board marked
with the alphabet. Once my dad forgot
to pick me up, and I sat with the receptionist
who fished a Jolly Rancher from her purse.

“As long as you can read it, honey,
who cares what anyone else thinks?”
She winked and I didn’t mention that I can’t
always read it, which means I find

faces in the bramble. I only take
notes so it looks like I belong here
though I belong in a therapist’s office
slicing the air as she calls “elemno.”

My sisters were jealous
of the attention I got for being
stupid. Maybe they thought therapy
meant visiting a seaside manor and making
tableau vivants with other stupid girls
in Grecian gowns. We’d chase each other
into the hedges, clack allegorical masks
together. I don’t know what

they thought. I don’t  even know what
I thought. I was pretty checked out
until I discovered I’m gay, then everything
was amazing, even mosquito bites
I found on my friend’s ankle with the tip
of my tongue. Things have evened out,

though sometimes when I hear heels click
up to a podium I look for wings, imagine her
strumming a golden harp, imaging searching 
for her itch. Sometimes my sisters say, “Remember

before you were gay…” and I interrupt,
“I was always already gay” like I’m hitting
a tether ball out of the park.


Elizabeth Hoover is the author of The Archive Is All in Present Tense, winner of the 2021 Barrow Street Book Prize. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the North American Review, the Boston Review, and StoryQuarterly. She reviews books, interviews authors, and writes about art and pop culture for Bitch, Paper, The Art Newspaper and the Washington Post. You can see more of her work at