It was a strange feeling, walking around Temple Square in Salt Lake City. There were so many ways for me to feel unwelcome. I was not from there, I was not mormon, I was not male. Those things that I was not seemed louder there, like the echoes of a bible dropped in a Cathedral, the sound amplified by the space around it.
I know what it is to feel like an outsider. I’ve been a lot of places where I didn’t quite fit in. At my previous job there was a deep divide between the attorneys and everyone else. The majority of the people in my office were attorneys and most of them kept me at arms length, or at the worst, treated me like some sort of lesser being because I hadn’t studied law. It was strange to be surrounded by people every day and yet unable to connect with most of them. I’ve never been so lonely as I was there.
I don’t know why being in Utah reminded me of that feeling. I walked around the city and stood outside the gates of the temple. But the closed gates didn’t bother me so much there. Not because of where I was, but because of how I had changed. There was a point when I got fed up with killing myself trying to get people to respect me, to like me. I had been making myself miserable.
That’s why I left. I wanted to stop getting so twisted up over what other people thought of me and I didn’t know how to do that. I’d been musing on the idea recreating oneself for a while. A while back I stumbled across the ouroboros, the symbol of a snake in a circle, eating it’s own tail. I was in Zeitgeist, one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle and they had the art of Emily Stout on display.
One piece, Ouroboros, particularly caught my attention. It’s an image of a woman in bow pose and within the circle of her body is the ouroboros. The ouroboros has a lot of meanings, but to me it’s about recreating yourself. I like it because there’s something dark about it, the idea of canibalizing yourself in order to renew. I think there’s an element of self-destructiveness to all positive growth.
To change in the way I wanted I had to do something a little crazy. I had to break myself down a little in order to build something new. I went off to wander the country because, in Utah, nobody knew me. It didn’t matter what anyone thought of me because in a few days I’d be gone. I could just be myself and let people take it or leave it. I was free.
Here’s to freedom,