Mike lives with two other guys downstairs from my new place, but he’s been friends with my roommate for quite a while. When he comes upstairs to hang out for a bit I ask him, ” Do you want to see my wall? I just started it.”
Settled in the newly painted shade of sea foam green, it sits- my wall, The Great Wall of Me. It’s a small collage of pictures and mementos, from a map of my home state to a picture of my mom holding me as a newborn. It contains notes from friends and anecdotes of origins I can’t remember. Right now, it expands the width of my desk but I know it’s growing slowly. Mike looks at each part one by one and smiles.
“I have a wall just like it.” He says.
Within the hour he’s showing me. His expands the entire wall-each photograph and poster separated by a half inch margin on all sides. He talks about a class project where his friends dressed up in drag because they ran out of female friends to help. He showed me a signed Reliant K CD cover.
“I liked them before I knew they were Christian. Then, I liked them more.”
We are stark in contrast and upbringing. He was raised in small town country Ohio, with traditions tied heavily to the bible. He is clean cut with blue eyes. “All American.” Plays the guitar. I grew up in a static household, raised loosely on the traditions of tarot and astrology. I’m more tattooed than most, and a little crustier than someone of my education and stature. I’m foul in the way only New Englanders know how to be, but I feel like it’s all poetry.
When I talk, he looks at me like I’m science but hears me in such a way that the flavors in his head will still be there long after they leave his palate. We are each other’s curiosity, but in a sincere non biased way. As I look at his wall, and we’re talking about god, I realize that we figuratively speak different languages but are saying the same words. We are identical in spirit but packaged way differently.
When I walk back upstairs to my place, I look out over the horizon and see the Sears Tower off about 3 miles in the distance. The light up top flickers faintly over the edge of the trees in my back alley. I reference back to a thought my best friend Abby had a while back, that a place can change you if let it. In promising to love myself better, it’s already started to change me better. My inner newness is much less terrifying knowing I can indulge and be at peace, being myself in the presence of a surface opposite.