Monday, December 21, 2009

The Experiment, Part 4

The Hippie

The morning after our little non-discussion, Leandra and I made it way to the college where I’d be doing archival work for a couple of days.  It was a tiny town with a college population higher than that of the actual town.  (Canadian versions of Ephraim, Utah, if you will).

P1000402Despite having worked on college campuses for years, there was  something enthralling about seeing so many people my age being young and having fun.  Between semesters, the campus was dead, but there was still plenty to do.  There was always something to do—a concert in the park to benefit MS research, readings in coffee shops, independent movies playing in the one-screen movie theater. 

I kept myself busy and found myself running into the same group of people fairly often.  Among them was a dread-locked hippie with horn-rimmed glasses named Terry.  He was himself.  Happy. Stable. Involved.  Loved.  Everyone in town knew him and held him in their highest regard. 

P1000403 We first met while in the archives.  He was doing work on students expelled from the college back in its Baptist days.  After a couple more run-ins at the coffee shop and on campus, he insisted, “While you’re here, you have to come to Wednesday at Paddy’s Pub.  It’s the thing everybody looks forward to in town.”

So, later that night, there I was.  23 years old and in my first pub (or bar of any form really).  My first time around people my age who didn’t assume I was Mormon or perhaps even know what to assume of a member of The Church.  The only times I’d been outside of Utah were 1) on my mission 2) school trips and 3) family vacations. 

P1000324Even within Utah, my interactions with non-members were limited.  Aside from professors, and a few friends, my life was completely filled with people who held the same religious beliefs.  At first, I sat alone.  Terry was nowhere in sight and I was enjoying the music of open mic night.  For being a tiny town, everyone knew how to sing or at least lead a sea shanty. 

As I looked around, I realized no one was judging me based on my sexuality or beliefs let alone the fact that I chose the house root beer over the house draft.  Even if I were to go up to that mic and announce my sexuality to everyone, nothing would change after that initial laugh. 

P1000412Terry showed up with his friend Sasha and we spent the night  talking about his ghost tours of the city, sipping our drinks, and listening to the talent.  (I esp. enjoyed this talented Indie artist Morgan Tobias.  Check her out).

All of the talk from my youth about The World being a scary place that persecutes us or doesn’t let us be who we are or believe what we believe made no sense at the moment.  These people really were nothing to fear. I didn’t need to drink to have a decent conversation with them or gain some sense of acceptance. 

I was me.

That was enough for me and everyone around me. 

End, Part 4


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