Welcome to our Pride and Joy Queer-ative Writing Series where we provide a space to post our OUTWrite Authors and Keynote Queers grads creative writing. This aligns with our theme of YOUR Voice, YOUR Power and we are excited to share creative writing with the community. All writing submitted is original work by the author and belongs to the author. The Pride and Joy Foundation does not own any publishing rights to creative work submitted. All work posted is edited for grammar and spelling only. The views and opinions contained within our guest blog belong solely to the contributing writer.
This week's post is by one of our OUTWrite Author 2022 grads, Lauren McMullan, who wrote a fragmented series in 4 parts. Here is part 1 of "The Making of a Burial".
In 2016 the breaking of my faith shot me out from beneath the landmind - my mental earth - to a mind made of atmosphere - my mindsky. Free of the interconnected tombs I had built for myself, and paralyzed in the vastness of what I’d built them to hide myself from, I am reclaiming, discovering, and artistically navigating what that means to me through metaphor and poetry.
In the internal vaporeal space of the mindsky I am learning to fall instead of plummet,
with a distant gleam of a dream that I may learn to float and fly.
the energy of a repossessed soul on the wind,
a hum through my ears,
a taste in my mouth,
a slip on my lips.
A whispered thrum,
a new Lorde suggesting i am not the first to travel here,
but still I,
barely able to breathe,
am rigid with terror.
A once balanced desert land, forced into a perpetual flowering state by the pioneer belief that their right to survival on their own terms was noble enough to destructively supersede all else. A mirroring of the mentality of those that violently drove them to the desert in the first place. Now, their work has brought sharp lined roads and lawns marking boundaries between the invention of what we call ‘property’ and the nature that is left trying to find a new kind of balance.
Explosions of induced flora brought from other climes strain for attention over the casual majesty of sagebrush and pine. It is a ‘Look at us!’ mentality tidily arranged, tits covered, and pleated into glossy grids beneath the mountainous underbags of an aged Mother Earth. Big clean scoops pulled from those mountains feel almost like a colonial patriarchal omen - first proof that they could control the landscape - and now below those scars, billboards all along the interstates shoved into them. Full color ads claiming celebratory mastery at changing the landscape of women’s bodies as well. This is the place I was born and inculcated into my understanding of self for the first two and half decades of my life.
I lived in the suburbs of what were once the affordable subdivisions and single elementary school sized cities of this place. My dad worked for a small airline, before the airport he worked for sprawled and sprawled again, before September 11th, before the Olympics came to my state and put it in the global mindseye, and before the use of the term Silicon Valley had been invented.
The way I was brought up was to understand that those who brought me into existence had done me a divine favor, to inhabit a body was a privilege. That before my birth I had still existed in an ephemeral state called a Spirit, and that all I had wanted in that state was to be poured into a physical form created in the likeness of what I was taught to believe God looked like (who I was to understand was strictly a Man - but we’ll get to that complication later).
In my home to have, and express, feelings of dissatisfaction or high-temper in unbidden or unexpected ways was met with admonishment in the form of physical punishment when I was little or emotional explosion or withdrawal as I aged. Solutions to ensuing ennui was met with being told to count my blessings or do good deeds. My dad and mom had masterful speeches about the privileges of being a child, reinforced by scriptural or religious jargon. Any feelings I had that were not uncomplicated joy or a boundless ability to enjoy life were signs that I was ungrateful, spoiled, or engaging in sin.
I was simultaneously taught that this privilege of being a child demanded the necessity of respecting my elders, elders being defined as any adult in my life who shared the values and beliefs of the religion that raised me, or who met the definition of what would be billed to me as being a ‘productive member of society.’
What ‘respect’ meant in action seemed in constant motion; based on circumstance, individual, and somehow, the way my voice sounded. Being too young to grasp onto any sort of sense of what could be intrinsically so wrong about how I was simply trying to exist meant that I eventually resolved to just find the most cordial adult I could, and then talk and act like them. If I ever wasn’t sure, I learned it was best to try and shut up and observe.
I became a sober kid with judgy eyes when expected to behave (“People generally appreciate waiting in line without a child in their personal space.” -Dad), and a bubbly gregarious one when expected to perform (at social functions and family reunions specifically - “Smile, it makes your face so much more beautiful and welcoming!” -Mom). What I could never seem to reliably squelch, however, was an accidental skill for asking questions that seemed to make people of all ages uncomfortable.
I began to notice that the expectations of being a kid and being an accepted, wanted, and worthy girl seemed aligned to each other in a way that felt like confirmation of their worth to the parts of me eager to please. To other parts of me though, this felt like oppression from all sides. However, the religion that raised me taught me to view rebellion of any kind that did not serve the furthering and reputation of the religion as temptation to sin, and a fast track to becoming morally corrupt. On the other hand, that eager to please attitude, was taught as a marker of ‘an open heart and a willing mind,’ states of being that allowed in God’s love and approval. Armed with this ‘logic’ I told my fighting parts to shut up and get with the program.
About the Author:
Lauren (she/they) is a late in life fence jumper and an early in career writer. When she's not processing her world through words she makes her living helping instructors manage their online classes and has the heart and degree of a librarian.