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As is common for me when I visit my family home in Florida, I'm bitten by the writing bug.

All of the qualia of my first memorable home -- the same one I was raised in since I was just a little over one year old -- comes flooding back, and practically everything I observe, touch, or interact with is filled with immediate nuance and significance from previous experiences.

In a way, it's a little like being otherkin while being otherkin (yo dawg...). Much of what I can call up to memory feels like it's from another life. The feelings are similar, and the memories are warm and familiar, but they feel as though they happened to a different "me" -- one that reacted to them in very different ways than the me of today.


In part, it's experience. Before leaving Florida to live in Washington state, I had seen very little of the world beyond a small collection of other states, some of the Bahamas, and some of Europe. I was pretty naive, and that naivete figured into a rather deep local bias for the culture to which I was exposed.

Standard fare, except Miami culture is a bit... bad, for the exceedingly-nerdy introvert. It's difficult for me to articulate the precise factors responsible -- perhaps a combination of extreme heat, humidity-enhanced mold, and a culture of deeply charisma-based meritocracy -- but the local culture is very strongly anti-intellectual, and anti-creative for activities that strongly cross perceived gender norms.*

This was difficult for me, because my heritage was very polarized. On my father's side, strict gender roles dominated much of his family's history. On my mother's side, a more liberal, gender-ambiguous stance was held for social acceptability. This instilled in me what I can only describe as deep existential confusion as I struggled to make sense of diametrically-opposed social views in the home, while being a creative, in an environment strongly repressive to highly creative and artistic males.**

This ensured that, for purely social reasons, I kept my creativity confined to my bedroom. I also kept it to what meager art supplies I could squirrel away, computer included.


Now, not all of that is bad. After all, I learned to be shockingly efficient with very little in the way of traditional media, tools, and personal space, while finding newer and better ways to hide my actions, interests, and behaviors among the ordinary. Years went by. And, when I finally moved, I brought these patterns with me.

In understanding what it means to me when I say I feel like a completely different person, I mean it in the sense of a caged bird that, once freed, regards their old home as such a small thing. It is to say that I've transcended that previous, isolating existence, and returning to it brings a re-evaluation of old motives and habits within this newer mental context. It also brings more than its fair share of simple nostalgia.

Thinking back to these experiences, I honestly believe I did the best by myself. When I'm away from my family house, I constantly find ways to fault my old patterns of behavior as well-meaning but ineffective. My return trips home, meanwhile, underscore that at the time, not only was I doing the most reasonable things for myself: I was building myself up into who I am today.

Still, it feels almost dualistic and dichotomic, this tangible feeling of being home in the physical sense, with this constant mental and emotional overlay from my previous Floridian life. Much of it is even exceedingly positive, and for that, I know precisely where to look.

It is fitting, then, that I just watched my sister graduate today.*** Watching her graduate from my own alma mater brought its own share of nostalgia. Nostalgia from a previous life that I've chosen to build upon, while the touchstones, experiences, objects, and people that I love are still here.


* In the suburbs. Miami Beach is a completely different, and unambiguously fabulous, matter.

** Perhaps I should back up a bit and explain why that last part matters.

By my very nature, I'm a creative. Naturally, this expresses in some rather flamboyant displays of color, pattern, and thought out of me. Yet, unlike some in my newer, draconic peer group, I am not gender-fluid: I identify strongly as male. I
am species-fluid in my identity, but that's a subject for another post. I'm also still trying to figure out my orientation. Again, another post.

*** The graduation itself went very well, by the way. I don't feel comfortable posting the details on this journal, save to say that the ceremony was very similar to when I, myself, graduated and that I'm very proud of my younger sister.


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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
heron61
May. 11th, 2013 08:24 am (UTC)
* In the suburbs. Miami Beach is a completely different, and unambiguously fabulous, matter.

I've never been to Miami (or in fact, anywhere in Florida), but IME strict gender roles seem an aspect of the entire East Coast, from scary small cities in central Virginia to liberal bastions like Boston. Although it's better in the otherkin community, when I've gone out to Walking or Crossing the Thresholds, I've noticed a vastly greater degree of rigid gender norms in the wider culture and a somewhat larger degree of it even in the 'kin community there that I'm used to anywhere in the West Coast.

I'm reminded of a local friend of mine who went to some of his friends' wedding in Boston a couple of years ago and said that while at least a third of the people present were gay, lesbian, or bi, and everyone present was a hardcore progressive, the reception still ended up being highly (and entirely voluntarily) gender segregated (with women and men in different rooms) in a way that is simply unknown in my social groups (both otherkin and not) out here. Parts (but definitely not all, or even most of) Manhattan seem like they might be an exception to this, but nowhere else that I've visited on the East Coast is.
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