(This is a very long piece. Writing it has made me proud to be myself, and to share it with the world)
There are a couple of things that have been on the back walls of my mind lately, feeding me answers that I haven’t decided to look at yet. I’ll look at the first one now.
It is more of a feeling than a language-based articulation. This notion that the time – now a month – that I passed through without writing out what was happening, and posting it, is a time that I don’t have and can’t reach. While I have been a writer most of my life, that life is fed together in scraps of paper left in piles and boxes and bags and notebooks and files all around – this house, USB drives, and computer cloud systems. Yet, despite having little hold on any of these scraps of the past, their existence is vital to continuing to be myself. When I have felt strongly, overpowered but what is being mixed into my mind, I have written those feelings out. When I have become empty and without, I have tried to write from beyond that, from the self still inside crusts of apathy. When I have had ideas of how to change my own vast/minute world, or the farther spreading earth; when insights that have arranged themselves, my knowledge becoming a beacon, opening up discourse into further dimensions of possibility – I write this all down. I share myself with ink and paper, and the invented computer monuments to ink and paper – twitter as post-it notes, deviantART as homemade and unedited chapbooks, my blog serving as a less private journal, while 750words has been a more private one. Finding inspiration on weheartit. In this haphazard way, I have recorded myself. I have found myself by putting it down on paper and showing it to the world, re-evaluating, and trying again. Perhaps the time that I have not written about feels to me like being stuck in the things I felt a month ago, unable to reach out until I paint over it with what I have recently gained.
In the early months of high school, I grew attached to a teacher, who was in charge of English, and of twisting my personality into good writing and the right kind of forceful energy. Every conversation I had with him, I imagined beforehand, mapping out possibilities right up until I began to speak. With his brilliant blue eyes and teasingly hard tone, everything I had thought melted, to his design. When the grade nine year was over, I began a diary. It was something I hadn’t successfully done on a long term basis before then. This time, driving away from summer camp, I managed to write out endless pages describing love and admiration for this teacher, and then continuing as I described friendships, sadness, wants and possibilities, and the start of beliefs. I wanted this teacher to be witness, in my imagination, to the person I was and would become. I spoke, and I had enough of his ideals in mind to answer. I exhausted myself describing my life, as though I needed to mold it in porcelain, to be one day read of and fully appreciated. I filled in the spaces of my life with my recollection of what went on, and what I sought. I drew a path to myself.
It’s something, to have this comfort of understanding there is a past. It’s something, too, to bring this past into the present, to drag it out into the open, and look back over what has happened. To speak to who I have been in another time, to whom I have trusted and loved. To try to pick out, from thoughts in grade six to transcribed Skype conversations just months ago, what still directly applies to me, what is fused to my subconscious – what pumps in veins that I don’t go slicing through [much] anymore.
I’ve changed a lot, see. I went back to visit my high school English teacher recently, as she is someone I appreciated having when I did, and whose company is the sort of light advice-giving amicability I don’t mind. A friend of mine had told her I’d come out as trans, so she knew who I now was, and she was expecting me to talk about all the changes in my life. When she asked, I realized that, to me, not much was different. I lived through six months of work at the largest restaurant corporation worldwide, a three month personfriend with small ambitions, and four months of university in a city where I knew no one. Coming back at year end, I experience a two-fold perception. At one angle, I feel as though my life is on the same track, and bound in the same way, as it always has been, and that there is as much distance keeping me from standing dead centre in those goals as there always has been. On the other side, I can sometimes see the bridge, my passage from there to here. It is in the way I flinch when my parents call me by my old name, and how unfamiliar it is to eat dinner with my family, to sing grace with a fluttery voice I’d forgotten I possessed – I pick apart the word “unfamiliar” and know that this oddness I feel is in being my own person, in departing from the design of this house and these parents. I have come to a place where I am not anybody’s person, save my own. This isn’t a change, per say, but it’s becoming a jumping off point. It is where I go to figure out my life, it is the lists I make that are interspersed with notes that read calm the fuck down, Kell, I love you, and it’ll be okay. It is knowing that, though others are beside me, I have to come back to myself to move forward as a person. This thing is nothing more than growing up, in coming back to what I can trust and love first and foremost. Who we are as people is who we are to ourselves. The world turns by each of us discovering what makes us truly happy, what is important, and accepting it within our beautiful world. Knowing ourselves.
It is interesting to note that I don’t think of or refer to this as independence. When I was younger, I did find myself to be independent, and I worshipped the idea. It was wrapped up in the solitude I sought above the company of the small-minded. I was also aware that most people who tried weren’t acquainted with or supportive of who I deftly was; the interests that had light, influence, and drive for me made a unique melange that kept me distanced from others. Finally, I so strongly wanted to be successful, and to rise away from the confines of the world I lived in.
That was my independence, and it is a keen thing to notice now. Never before have I understood, in this exact way, that I wanted these things more strongly than people, wanted them before I knew to want people. As I went through school, I was always the smart one, and I was often the odd one, based more on my personality than on my out-of-place skin colour. I was set apart from other students by my level of intelligence, and my subsequent ownership of that intelligence. I became who I was through my identity as an intelligent person, and that gave me a sense of depth from early on, as well as a sense of loss in realms that didn’t involve school-based intellect. It meant I had fewer friends over time, and less idea of how to socialize. It turned into scrabbling for purchase when my intelligence couldn’t hold me up– searching for jobs, doing projects, figuring out human connections, organizing classes and appointments, and finding any kind of motivation. I have stuck by the same loves for years, the main one simply being learning. I was asked recently how many topics I knew a lot about, and assessing it, there aren’t many. I read a lot, and I care about the books I read. I take in everything, so long as there’s a good story, and it stays in the back of my consciousness, if not my areas of expertise. That will never stop mattering to me. It may be the only thing I’m really good at. Going back to university, where I am thrust into a group of people whose life skills are often above mine, but whose learning is striving to pick itself to the rung below, I’m remembering how good it feels to be at the top, to be in my element, learning what fits my mind. My mind fills like my belly, when, hours after I became hungry, I finally eat.
That has always stayed with me. So, too, has wanting success. It’s a strange combination I’ve chosen, that of writer and would-be well-known. I know enough to know I have skill in writing, potential, as it were. I know that if I am to become anything I need a good deal of training. I do not ignore the reality that I may never be seen as great. I know with all my heart that I do have the capacity to be great, though. That capability is not what draws my wish for success, however. That is another fruit entirely. It is becoming clear that I can’t mold a world around wishes for the future. This is another step in my becoming who I am today, and will be tomorrow. I must walk up to the person I am now, and take that person to live out today. I want to be able to accept who that person is, as I am him, and to work with one day at a time.
What I was saying, now far above, is that I’ve had a lot of occurrences fly past me in the months that have just gone, and I haven’t looked at myself in relation to them. Now, as I do, I think for the first time in my life, I may have found solid ground. Saying it, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of doubt. The summer thus far has been fixed on my unlessening laziness, my failure to get a job with the high standards and medium effort I’ve given, and being still unable to feel continually happy or even partially at home.
Searching for a home has been a struggle since shortly after moving away, when I realized I didn’t belong anywhere. Living with my parents and wanting to move were in close correlation, with a feeling of suffocation being the closest association to staying in Winnipeg. I felt closed in artistically, with nothing seeming to offer up much in the way of creative training or exploration– and I was beginning to feel closed in by the people I knew. There were designs laid out, based on who I had been as a young teenager, of who I should be as I continued to grow. If I stayed I would see myself in the eyes number of friends, and my parents, rather than my own perception. Most apparent was that I was female, I was shy, I was silly and nerdy and I was small. I wanted to be able to expand, to fill a vision so big that it wasn’t fully clear. I wanted to become the haze of greatness that was palpable to me, for there to be so much of myself fully realized that I could only be a fraction of that world at an time. I wanted to stop being plans and halves and partially jotted down ideas; I wanted to be a whole story, a whole creative, ambitious, powerful, real creature.
And right now, as with then, I want to find a home. Moving to Nanaimo, I came to know that I was simply on another stepping stone. Or, I see that now. At the time, it was tear-soaked heaviness, something I saw as failure. I had failed to find a place for myself, and as I walked through the place I was in, I seemed to lose myself. It is true that for much of my four university months, I talked to no one in classes, became no one’s friend, and sometimes, hoped that no one acknowledged me. I didn’t join any groups or explore the city or become myself within Nanaimo. We lived parallel to each other.
It still feels as though no earthly place is mine, and that both worries and frustrates me. However, this brings me to a different home, one made of people. There are those whom I love, whom I can find comfort in, who I could imagine staying close to, and they holding me, for a long time. There is one boy, far off both in distance and in possibility, who he is often there. In order to exist for me, Adam would have had to weave through friends and websites and not entirely serious junctures, and open himself, unexpectedly, to me. I would have had to accept him. We would have had to trust each other, quickly, to be willing to listen and try to help each other, with very little to connect us. Still, hope permeates both our lives, and we did find that bond. His hope is to find some sort of sanctity in living, mine is to feel secure and find a way to give myself to the world. Adam and I were, and are, searching for a way to be happy, in a world that doesn’t look us in the eye. We have in common a position of uniqueness, and the misunderstanding this garners; but we have come to know that we are vital, we are important pieces in this world that doesn’t look at us. I don’t mean we move with the importance of servants behind hidden corridors or workers in clothing factories – that those people have importance is triggered by a life of consumption, which is not a need, simply an excuse. It is a way to live in the world without having to move it We change ourselves with manufactured goods, and say it is meaningful to something besides ourselves. And we use other people’s efforts to help convince ourselves that we are deserving of all the creations it is possible to consume, and to say that there is nothing we are required to add, nothing that needs our help to sustain a good world – we move with the importance of clouds to the water cycle, of angels to Jesus’ birth, of candle flame to midnight journeys during the crusades. We are self-obsessed, internally rebellious, and chaotically wise. We are only one piece, but we can shine.
Adam cannot see happiness; he has told me so. He asks me, somewhat sheepishly, what happiness is. I try to answer, but I don’t think he feels what I am saying until later in the night, when I flicker on a lighter in my dark room, and hold it so that, across my screen and his, all he can see is a glow against my soft smile. It’s like you were saying, he tells me, happiness is the light that shines from inside you. We both smile, and pretend not to know we are doing that to each other.
This is what I am trying to say, about home. That I hardly know who Adam is, and he was drunk that night when we both said we wanted to be together, that he’s traipsed through a good deal of trouble that he doesn’t understand, that he doesn’t know how to feel, and he gives me a headache sometimes when he’s all caught up in something that doesn’t matter. But he makes me feel like, whether or not we fit into each other’s puzzle piece fantasies, whether or not he grows into someone who doesn’t make me wish he’d change so many little things, he’s something. He’s the closest thing to me, and someone I’d want to live with my whole life long.
All I want to add is that what happened in the last month is that I grew. I have a new sense of self to replace the one that was slugging around last month. And there is more. It’s telling me that I havne’t become nothing, that even while I’m been soaking in acidic pools of laziness and feeling lost and shameful for the shape of my life, I’m not nothing. It’s telling me that a lot more is possible.