Saturday, January 9, 2010

The End of Self-Deprivation Stage

"I have bent for you and I've deprived for you and I'm done. I have depressed for you and contorted for you and I'm done. I have stifled for you and I've compromised for you and I'm done. I have silenced for you and sacrificed for you and I'm done" (Alanis Morissette).

I apologize for my blog hiatus. I decided to be extra cautious while I was graduating last month, and I am sill waiting to receive my diploma (standard procedure), which won’t be mailed for another week or two. In the mean time, I will maintain caution, which is why I won’t give the advice that I am itching to give to several bloggers as of late who seem to be really trying to figure out what to do with their young lives.

I write this from Boston, Massachusetts—my new home. I love it here. The people have been so friendly, the buildings and homes are so charming, and everything is just so beautiful. Michael and I moved here from Utah last week. It’s been a treacherous, cathartic journey across the United States, and considering we spent Christmas with his family in Washington State, it was literally a drive from coast to coast.

We left Provo on the 29th, trying to leave early enough in the morning to miss the snow. We had our entire lives packed into a little U-Haul trailer we named Eustace, which we were tugging behind our 1999 Nissan Altima. The trailer forced us to go slow even though we were on major highways, and it was pretty scary, especially at first. Leaving Salt Lake Valley and crossing the pass that would ultimately take us into Wyoming was liberating, but intimidating. We had to chant “I Think I Can” over every hill.

Then it began—our reverse exodus. We were following the trail of the Mormon pioneers, only the other direction. From Utah to Wyoming’s beautiful hills and breathtaking views to the painful monotony of Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa, skirting past Missouri, into Illinois where we stayed briefly with my family, then east through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, we followed in reverse the path of Mormonism. Like them, we were seeking the freedom to live the way we believe free from persecution from government, surrounding churches, and neighbors. Like them, we trailed everything behind us in a cart, through perilous snow, ice, and wind. I can’t describe the emotional, symbolic effect the changing landscape had on me. It was like I was literally reversing the effects of Mormonism on my life—not eliminating it, simply tracing it’s history backwards towards it roots.

And then in New York I had the most euphoric experience crossing the border into Connecticut. We had suddenly left the roots of Mormonism and gone beyond them. I could feel myself leaving it behind and moving on. And in New England, this new and exciting place, I was greeted with steeples. Hundreds of charming New England steeples!—beautiful white ones and copper-green ones and red ones, all poking out over the landscape. Architecturally they were remarkable and striking. Symbolically they were inviting and deeply moving. They represented, to me, the United Church of Christ, which is hands down the largest, most prominent church in the area. At any of these UCC Churches, I could walk in on Sunday and feel welcome, wanted, and loved. The United Church of Christ has welcomed gay congregants, gay ministers, and gay couples for more than 40 years.

Coming into Boston on January 5, 2010, was for me what entering the Salt Lake Valley must have been like for those Mormon pioneers. There was a thrill in arriving, an excited gasp at the beauty of the landscape, the comforting vision of holy places where I am safe and welcome, a feeling of community, and the relieving feeling of a burden being lifted that made me exclaim, “This is the right place.”

"It won't be long before I am reclaimed. It won't take long and I'll be on path again. It won't be easy for us to disengage. I'm at the end of self-deprivation stage" (Alanis Morissette).