I grew up at the feet of mountains, colossal concubines groomed for the pleasure of strangers, and these valley towns are swollen with strangers like too much salt in a cell. This place is a limbo inhabited by only a few thousand souls year-round, but a hundred thousand more from all over the world swarm in every winter and summer and swoop out every spring and fall, leaving the county deflated like a burst party balloon.
I see so many faces, everyone looks familiar. I see so many faces, I rarely meet someone who has not already met me first. I see so many faces, I don’t remember faces anymore, I only remember voices, stances, gaits, and gestures, the way people move instead of how they look. I can tell a lot about someone by the direction of their feet when they stand or the direction they turn their hands when hanging by their sides. This lets me treat strangers like friends. Many people will tell me their most embarrassing secrets shortly after meeting me with no provocation. This makes it hard to keep secrets from anyone, and when you’ve been the son of a pastor all your life, it’s even more difficult.
In the same month during the year I turned fourteen, I started public high school after eight years of home schooling, my dad became a pastor at a new church, and the Twin Towers were destroyed on my birthday. The next year doctors diagnosed me as bipolar, and it was true, I was as close as possible to being two different people without actually having two personas. I still struggle with the mood swings, but when I finally admitted I was gay three years ago, I started putting my fractured self back together. Denying your self will make you dead, either figuratively or literally.
I see the world not so much in black and white, more like binary code. Either things are or they aren’t. For a while this double sight sold me the lie of defining myself by what I’m not rather than what I am. I struggle with wanting to live on both sides of the line, being a zero and a one. We live by contradictions and double standards, so why bother with standards at all? I still have a hard time distinguishing sex from love and need from want, but those aren’t opposites anyway. If atoms can exist in two opposing states simultaneously, then humans have no excuse.
Now that I’ve moved away, I can see how that small town full of strangers shaped me to live in two worlds at once, a diminishing private world encapsulated in an increasingly public world where everyone actually does get fifteen minutes of fame. I never had anonymity, so I don’t understand our society’s obsession with celebrity. It is funny that we lament losing privacy in our modern, monitored world when we love gossip so much. I’m not going to waste my time chasing cheap glory when I could be doing something worthy of honor.
I want to be a star, but not the kind that dresses in the latest fashions and poses for cameras. I want to be a quasar blasting radio waves through the endless silence of space. I want to be a luminous blue variable that shines brighter than every other star in the sky until it sheds its layers and implodes like celestial fireworks. I want to be a binary star spinning fiercely around its companion, waltzing for millennia before humans ever danced the tango. I want to be one star out of trillions.