Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summer 2k12: Hello Goodbye

A dear friend (and fellow Gender and Sexuality Studies concentrator) once said to me, "If queer theory has taught us anything, it's to delight in transitional spaces." This is on my mind as I sit in the Denver airport for five hours in a transitional space between summer laziness and scholarly industriousness, between a normative nuclear family environment and a radical matriarchal kinship structure centered around library all-nighters and communal fridges, and between a wild desert valley and a flat, lush collegiate gothic swamp. Today I said goodbye to Utah, and today I will be saying hello to Pennsylvania.

Traveling between my hometown and school always puts me in the weird position of trying to figure out whether I'm leaving my home or returning to my home. Do I belong to the place where I lived for a very long time, where my family lives, and where my cultural heritage as a Mormon is centered? Or do I belong to the place where I aspired to go for many years, where I have spent most of the past several years, where I am registered to vote and where the majority of my possessions reside? This part of my life has the advantage and challenge of being heavily transient, and I guess the whole point in this exercise of being a vagabond is to learn to relinquish that kind of identity. Not to reject the idea of having a sense of place, but I guess it doesn't matter whether I'm a "true" Utahn or a "true" Mawrter, what matters is that I'm going to need to lug my possessions into a small room in a number of hours and find something to eat in a few minutes and start going to class next week and go to work tomorrow.

Another tricky issue around this time of year is how to leave. I know very well how to arrive-- I'll call everyone I know is on campus, give them a big hug and squeal about how much I missed them, it will be like we were never apart. But saying goodbye always  has a weird feeling of ceremony to it. Yesterday I was stressed out the entire day, trying to cram too many dresses into wheeled containers and worrying about seeing and saying goodbye to everyone. I woke up my little sister for a hug before I left, and I made a point to see people for the specific purpose of saying farewell, feeling pressure to say something deep or important or conclusive, promising to keep in touch and that I'l miss them. Perhaps this is the wrong approach, though? Perhaps I should have just slipped away without making a big production of it. Maybe that would have been less emotionally taxing or underscored that saying goodbye for the evening and goodbye for the semester aren't really so different. Regardless of what I say to anyone upon departing, I know I'll see them again when I've taken all my final exams, when snow is on the ground, and when I have to wear tights every day.

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