Thursday, January 27, 2011

Road to Authenticity part 3: Summer on the Cape

It was only two weeks after my baptism that I left to go on an internship in Cape Cod.  I remember the bishop talking with me about protecting the seed of faith that will get stronger as my testimony builds.  I think he was afraid that I might lose faith being away and not receiving support from the community that I came to know while investigating the church.  I’d have to take on a whole slew of people outside the church not crazy about me being mormon and going to a new mormon community that may not be thrilled about my outness of being gay.  So my bishop’s fears weren’t without foundation but like it was with me coming out as gay I received an answer that I was to join this church.  I told him that no person or entity could sway me away from the church anymore than they could in making me straight.  Apparently there were also new member lessons I needed to learn that I never received until about a year later when I was helping teach them to a new member that I was home-teaching, so yeah.

God did give me aid in this new endeavor that I hadn’t counted on.  The manager for who I was doing the internship under said that I could bring another student with me and the student I chose was the one who went to the Florida conference with me in January and she goes by the name Fifi in America.  She didn’t have a license and I didn’t want to be the only driver to drive to Cape Cod from Indiana so we took my best friend along to spend some time in New York and then Fifi and I would drive to the Cape from there and he would fly back.    My best friend whose who I call Andy that I have been friends with since 2nd grade had been a bit saddened when I became mormon since I was just going to turn 21 the following June and although he didn’t turn 21 in December all hopes of us drinking together were shattered, but a trip to /new York gave us plenty of time to work that out.  I also would like to add that he was also a great support when I came out and we have stayed friends from 2nd till today and I have been truly blessed to have a friend like him.

During our road trip I learned that Fifi who is from Shangai, China came to the U.S. as an exchange student at a high school in Utah.  Her host family was Mormon and though she never became a member she did attend services with them. She had known I was gay and when I told her I had just joined the church two weeks ago there was nothing but support from her.  We talked about her experiences with her family and I shared my experiences with investigating the church.She had been great support for me during my time on Cape Cod. 

We did our internship at the Wianno Club in Osterville, Massachusetts.  We stayed on the property in these dorms were the employees live.  Most of the employees that work there come there on visas from various parts of the world that included South Africa, Romania, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Singapore, Poland, and Macedonia.  It was an amazing experience to work and live together with so many diverse individuals.  Of course this led to a lot of employee parties that were a lot of fun and a unique experience to say the least.  I still remember the music wars between the gypsy like music of Bulgaria and Romania fighting for play time with reggeaton from the Costa Ricans.  There were drinking each time and I had plenty of opportunities to get into discussions with people about why I don’t drink and pretty much everyone at least understood my choice.  Fifi helped back me up and throughout our time we experienced a lot together I was fortunate to be traveling with such an open minded person that was open to getting out in the world and trying new things.  

We both were unique oddities on the Cape there weren’t any other person we met from China and really aside from the Singaporeans we worked with not really any Asians in sight.  Fifi loved it though, she loved that she stood out as an individual more and that a lot of people took interest in her being from Shanghai, in the area I too was developing that sense having a strong sense of individuality. 

I remember my 21st birthday consisted of a surprise banana cake on the beach with Fifi and the Singaporeans and then almost everyone came together under the basement of the dorms were they threw a party for me.  There were a lot of poles supporting the upper floor and one thing about me I had failed to mention was that I love to dance and though I didn’t drink I sure danced like I was drunk it felt kind of like I have reached a milestone in my life and I worked hard to get it and I’m just going to let go and celebrate.  Thus the party ensued with pole dancing while beer was flying everywhere so although I didn’t drink one drop on my 21st I sure reeked of alcohol on my 21st not that I had planned to. 
I had met a lesbian couple who were great friends to me.  They would put my authenticity to the test that’s for sure and they would always be getting on me for drinking Coca-Cola, but I had drank that beverage since I was little , and that it was more of a health advisory than a covenant.  These two were both leos which really showed with both of them as they always wanted things there way which would cause a lot of arguments between them, but they would come together after each one and they didn’t care whether people were around or not.  I had a lot of fun hanging out with them.  They treated me has I wanted to be treated and I had my voice with them that is what made theses two really good friends.  Aside from Fifi these two were the closest of the friends I made on the Cape and those three would be of great aid to me when tragedy would strike. 

  I had started attending the ward there and Fifi came along with me and the ward was very warm and welcoming as it had been in Indiana.  I had looked forward to interacting with the ward members more, but unfortunately I would have only been able to attend a few Sundays till my summer would take a turn for the worst,  the cause was me getting into an accident with a motorcyclist.  To this day I hate talking about it and I really don’t want to spend too much time on the details so in short there were two passengers, they had been flown from the bike, they both survived, they suffered minor injuries one passenger suffered broken bones, the motorcycle was totaled, it happened near midnight so I was lucky I had people in my car and people in another car that was fallowing behind to help detour oncoming traffic from the wreck,  my cars axel was bent and had to be repaired, I was charged with reckless driving for which I had to go to court for, I had to work with the repair mechanics, work with my insurance, get a lawyer, and get my court appointments. 

I was without a car and very saddened that I had almost caused the death of two individuals.  The church was a 30 min drive from where I was at and given the current situation the less people I had to communicate this event to the better; this also prevented me from experiencing more of the Cape, getting involved in the GLBTQ community, and getting involved with the church.  I was eventually able to regain my bearings and get hold of the situation but many opportunities lost as I was without a car till about a week before I had to leave the Cape and my court case didn’t wrap up till 2 days after I got my car back which the verdict was all my charges would be dropped provided nothing else happens for at least a year.  After the trail I could finally breathe easy though in just a few days I had to head back to Indiana to start my junior year.

Cape Cod was a time of trials to see whether I could handle a life lived authentically and out loud.  I stood by my values through it all and though a tragedy happened that prevented further growth in that area for the rest of my summer, the experience was invaluable as a whole to show me how precious life is and how one split second could threaten to change that and although sometimes freak accidents come along and tragedies will occur it is certainly worth the effort to take steps to prevent as many as you can. 

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