Maybe Vittoria Benzine was born when I was nine years old, writing a report for my elementary school English class about the black-footed ferret. Maybe Vittoria Benzine was born when I turned fifteen and fell in love with fashion as a means of escape from our small town in rural Pennsylvania. Maybe Vittoria Benzine was born when I turned sixteen and began to actively consider writing a career path.
By all factual measures, though, Vittoria Benzine was born when I was 22, on June 7th, 2018. I know the precise date because it’s recorded in my phone’s notes - this is the moment my name came to me, one week before I achieved my first six months sober.
Vittoria Benzine, her name laden with sexually-charged consonants evocative of flammable chemicals and Le Tigre lyrics, didn’t see this past as pain. She saw it as strength. Through Vittoria’s eyes, my wounds turned to wisdom, and my struggles to stories. Vittoria is my regard for writing personified. She is an embodiment of the American conflation between profession and identity gone awry, a system turning back on itself.