The Haunting Refrain

I am a quivering mass of curly headed protoplasm filled with so much emotion and feeling that it just comes pouring out. This is possibly the best description anyone will ever know of who I really am. It is the sum of me. Today I face fears that have remained suppressed for decades and will be looking into the mirror of myself as a gangly kid growing up in a small town that I so desperately wanted to flee so long ago. I was an emotional kid growing up which didn’t bode well for growing up in small Montana communities. I have always been very tender hearted and compassionate toward others.

This journey with Kelly’s murder the past couple of weeks has stirred a lot of deep feelings within me. It feels like my constant project this week has been creating this presentation of Kelly’s life for her memorial today out in Superior. I have been connecting all week with all kinds of people from my past that I have forgotten. In fact much of my life in Superior going to high school is a blur. It was such an uncomfortable time for me. I was not a very good student and always felt out of place like I didn’t really belong. I wasn’t gay then; well not that I was really aware of, not in the sexual sense anyway. I think everyone else saw it within me before I could see it in myself and just assumed. I do remember that strong attraction to other guys and not sure what it was. I tried to date girls, but that didn’t quite go anywhere either. I just lingered somewhere in between. My brother Mark and I were in the same class together. He was an all sport athlete, curly blond hair, piercing blue eyes, filled with extraordinary humor and charisma. He was the one everyone saw and idolized. Though I am a year older, I failed the first grade and we ended up all through school together. I retreated to my little art projects, loved to read, tried to write, but was an atrocious speller and I still am, creative, non athletic. Lingering in his shadow.

On my past visits to Superior I have remained private, not wanting to socialize, perhaps a bit afraid of others seeing what I have become. Others judging me for the lifestyle I have chosen. Today I will rejoin and become come a part of that small community again. I have been received with warmth from those peers the past couple of weeks since I began writing about Kelly’s disappearance. There was an outpouring of people that had read the Ode to Kelly Jo piece, so they have seen what I do. I do feel I have been a bit more careful in choosing my images this week because I know a whole new group of people have been looking at me. But today this is who I am and this is what I have become. I am an artist who examines his life and feelings and expresses all those things others keep locked so deeply within. I know I will face so much within myself today. Today the circle comes complete. I return to where I once began. I think it is odd at this age to have such doubts about confronting the past, to step back into the impressions that framed the beginning of my existence. I have spent a lifetime overcoming that anxiety. Perhaps I am harder on myself and all this phobia is merely internalized. I don’t want to step back to that painful period in my life and be that person anymore. Today I am something much more and I know today is a day to let go of those old ghosts what still haunt my distant past. Here I stand before me, The Naked Man.

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