Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Interviewing Angels

My first blog interview is tomorrow, with Jenny. She's getting up a little early on a Friday to let me come over and spend the morning with her and her dog, Snow. As I begin this new part of the writing journey, I'm thinking about the damage that generalizations do, and how we can't avoid them. Also about sameness and difference.

No two childhoods are the same. No two gay people are the same. No two coming out stories are the same. And yet, by gathering multiple human stories on a similar theme -- how LGBTQ people find their unique brands of happiness -- I feel like an outline or shadow will begin to sketch itself. If not guidelines or instruction manuals for young gays, then a reassurance of the plurality of gay happiness.

Jenny introduced me to Mary Oliver years ago, and this poem resonated this morning:

By Mary Oliver

You might see an angel anytime
and anywhere. Of course you have
to open your eyes to a kind of
second level, but it's not really
hard. The whole business of
what's reality and what isn't has
never been solved and probably
never will be. So I don't care to
be too definite about anything.
I have a lot of edges called Perhaps
and almost nothing you can call
Certainty. For myself, but not
for other people. That's a place
you just can't get into, not
entirely anyway, other people's

I'll just leave you with this.
I don't care how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. It's
enough to know that for some people
they exist, and they dance.

Mary Oliver is a poet who lived for forty years with her partner (they called them companions back then), photographer Molly Malone Cook. Cook passed away in 2005, but Oliver is still going strong at 81, just a few years younger than my grandmothers.

Tomorrow, I will start interviewing the angels and trying to get into their heads.

But first, I need to figure out how to turn my phone into a recording device, and delete enough data to be able to hold these interviews. It's the Oregon Trail Generation -- I'm confident I can figure it out, but it's not second nature. I don't already know how to do it.

To the next chapter!

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