I have a backlog of posts waiting to be published. Many of them talk about race, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to share them. I’ve fallen under fear–the fear of losing social capital, the fear of saying the wrong thing, the fear of looking ignorant, the fear of admitting my own faults, the fear of alienating the people I can learn from.
Black clouds. Rain clouds. Grey clouds. Large black dogs with floppy ears and wobbly feet. Shadowy hands holding you back. Globs of dark fur, drenched in the rain, peering at you through an alleyway as deep as dreadful. All these things, and I’m sure many more, have been ways that people have tried to visualize depression.
For me, I’ve always considered it a bit more comically, more commercially even. Do you remember that little guy from the Zoloft commercials? It’s so cute, but so sad, so small yet so poignant, altogether insignificant.
It’s a frown, a sigh, an expression of anguish or uncertainty as the weather darkens, but you look outside and it’s still sunny and warm.
Perhaps it helps to visualize depression. Perhaps it helps to make it human. Or perhaps putting a face to these feelings isn’t at all what we need.
Today’s Independence Day. To celebrate our freedom, I’ve been planning to write a piece about self-determination, celebrating the power we each hold as individuals in the United States and encouraging people to embrace this power–to take charge of their lives, and more importantly, to take charge of their country.
But self-determination is a privilege of the modern world, and the freedom we have today came at cost far greater than any one of us could ever imagine–certainly far greater than even I could conceive.
Today marks the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling in the U.S. v Windsor, which struck down the section of DOMA that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. I can easily recall sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, waiting for the decision to be announced. It was such a hopeful moment, and with the victories we’ve gained since then, equality seems closer than ever before.
However, there’s a movement within the LGBT community that’s tainting this cause for celebration and making me angry: As equal marriage advances in the country one vote and one verdict at a time, there’s a small but growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals complaining about the heteronormativity of marriage–that is to say, they claim, the institution of marriage is a construct of straight culture.
And therefore, they go on, we should have no part in it.
But this thinking makes me mad. So very, very mad.
The subways in Mexico City aren’t just empty tunnels: they’re entire underground cities, museums that stretch from one platform to the next, dark corridors lit with black lights illuminating the zodiac’s constellations.
We had just finished looking at models of the city as the Aztecs had built it, as the Spanish had rebuilt it, and finally as the country of Mexico had constructed it today, when I turned to my boyfriend and asked, “What language do you think in?”
I have a friend who likes to tell me–whether sincerely or sarcastically I sometimes cannot tell–that I’m the kind of guy who, when life throws shit at me, just keeps on smiling. And I suppose it’s true. If you’re a longtime reader, you might recall past discussions on regret and pessimism that asserted I believe everything must work out in the end, and that the best way to survive is to keep smiling–even if it’s only a choice, not a direct response.
So I keep on smiling.
But sometimes it feels there’s no need–because everything’s in order anyways.
It’s hard to believe five months have passed since I left N.C. State on my Alternative Service Break to Belize. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the trip began–the application process, the monthly team meetings, and all the fundraising… In the forefront of my summer plans and now in the background of my Resident Mentor training, Belize continues to be a prominent feature as I compile both a journal and a photo companion of my trip to send to those who helped me make it there in the first place.
Those are separate reflections, intimate monologues for the select few, but I promised and have been building an experience here for many months–and for just as many months, it’s been missing an important page: the final page.
Over the coming week, I’m going to close this chapter of the Writingwolf, taking you along from the moment our plane touched down to the cataclysmic changes I’ve experienced since it flew me back.
I got back from a leadership institute today and as usual, I’d over-packed–three too many t-shirts, a bathing suit I never used, and a few extra pairs of shorts. I learned on my trip to Belize the importance of rolling, not folding, clothes to preserve suitcase space, so the unpacking process now includes refolding my laundry. I picked up a pair of shorts I hadn’t worn, and all the week’s lessons converged on a few threads of white cotton crisscrossed in a barbed wire pattern.
Integrity, intent, and fashion sense. That’s leadership.
This is not a post about leadership–but leadership is merely an incarnation of the lessons we learned. A recurring thing was the saying “Own your stuff,” and I feel some ownership is at last in order.
It’s been a long time since I’ve said this and an even longer time since I’ve sincerely believed it, but today I feel happy. Genuinely happy. And for the life of me, I can’t even say what’s changed.
It feels like, for so long, dark clouds have held their hands around me, ethereal and tornadic fingers twisting around me, tumultuous chaos attacking me from every angle. Today the wind awoke over the world and while I was crossing the Brickyard–an open courtyard at the heart of campus–I felt the wind whipping around me, awaken the wind inside me, and in a burst of ecstasy I spun around and watched as the world itself twisted beneath me….
When you found yourself here today, you probably noticed the new banner at the top of the page. I like banners. They allow me an opportunity to make a little art and share it, to add a little color and something extra to my blog. I’ve used them to describe myself (“A gay Jewish storyteller speaks”), to give greetings (“Happy New Year!”), and even to make a political point (remember SOPA?). But now? Now I’m using it as a way of inviting you deeper.