A love story of queer intimacies between (her) body and object (her cigarette)
Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena
In what way do ‘things matter’ to the lives of chronically ill and disabled individuals? What kinds of ‘care arrangements’ do they enter into and make with the material world so they can live as well as possible? This chapter offers an intimate exploration of how objects come to matter within disability worlds, and the role they play in different care-making practices and various forms of love production. Against the background of the love story of caring for my partner, who is narcoleptic and a heavy smoker, this chapter introduces the concept of ‘caring matter’, through which I theorise queer intimacies between disabled persons and objects. Building on an auto-phenomenographic exploration of my autobiographical writing, poetry and photography, I explore the ‘intimate act of love’ framed in the smoking-and-breathing encounter between my partner and her cigarette. In the conclusion, I summarise my reflections on ‘caring matter’, and the ways that matter can show us how non-human care ‘works’ when human-provided care is absent or insufficient. Ultimately, I ask for critical thinking on smoking from the perspective of feminist intersectionality and disability studies.