Law 25: Recreate Yourself

this is how I started

a small fear filled child

a bit moved across Canada for a generation

a new home every year

each new home a new opportunity

but never enough time to develop

to make friends

finally settling

the only child

a small fear filled child

discovering things about himself

that weren’t what he observed

in other children

children with rough tumble values

gender roles unquestioned

reinforced by parental and scholastic approval

mine rarely reinforced

opting for invisibility

those moments when I was observed

winning an art prize

flunking miserably at math

art devalued

math venerated

the first invention

the arty poet uninterested in approval

bravado rather than conviction

the shield of music

flowed into the the drunk

the numbed to identity

the first man on man sex

wanting more

but with more to hide

inventing to we did drunk sex

so it doesn’t count

the writer published

the man escapes from

with his life

not another new world

once again the new face in town

remade into the timid bar hopper

manic dancer

reinvented as the sober housemate

the lover for life

the return to the word

the uneducated director

set designer lighting sound tech

discarded to be replaced

by the novelist poet

spoken-word performer

spun into the out spoken queer

This was an interesting law to work with – I did take it rather literally for a change – first by looking at the ways I was reinvented by the culture I was growing up in. There was a fair bit of moving until we settled in Sydney Nova Scotia. Even there we moved at least three times before my dad bought the house I grew up in. All that moving made it hard to learn how to interact with others.

I was also small, blond, a bit spoiled and fearful. My final height growth didn’t happen until after I finished high-school. I’ve written about my east coast growing up extensively but never from this particular point of view. Even then I did feel the pinch of never being the ‘boy’ my Dad would have liked – sporty – my younger brother took that role on.

I did want to be a writer from an early age but that was never seen as a viable or suitably masculine role for me & so it was never really encouraged. Learn to spell first was a frequent admonition. No one knew about spellcheck in those days. Oddly enough the ability to spell was seen as girly – maybe that was why I resisted it. Girls could be smart; guys could be dumb.

Things then that I didn’t really question but felt shame around – this cultural coding of what gender meant as a value judgement. All I knew was my fear at being found out, called out & mocked. Some of those fears were realized in high school being designated as a gearbox – one of those olden day terms for queer – fairy was also used but I preferred gearbox as it at least sounds a little butch, right? 🙂

This follows the changes in identity over the decades, the fearful drunk, the quiet rebel who was hidden but resolute all the same. Writing, painting where modes of expression that probably kept me alive. Same with drinking as other hidden gay guys I sort of knew killed themselves. I survived. Some of these changes are way out culture reinvents us from cute young thing to handsome older to doddering dirty old man.

One of the comments about my After The Falling chap book is that there was no clear through line – that each of the pieces, as well written as they were, came from different writers. Which to me says I have a multi-layered world view that reflects a more complex person than my image may project at any given time, or rather, than you may project on me at any given time.

The most recent re-invention is #DadBodHot.

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


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