Years ago I decided to move from Philadelphia to Nashville and see what I could create in that place. Music is great, the weather is lovely, and I have friends in the area. Why not go there and get away from the cold of the north? I hate cold. And so I packed my belongings, my cat, my memories, and I moved.
During the process of putting my life into a little green box, people came to me, criticizing my decision. Taunting of the southern way of doing things, these friends told me I would never see art, participate in intellectual discourse, or experience life as one of the beautiful people. In short, I would no longer be in a “worthwhile” city with “worthwhile” people.
And I defended my decision. Over and over.
Time passed, and one move became two and then three, and a new way of living was born in me, and people became accustomed to my gypsy ways. They saw me see the beauty in the world where others saw despair. They listened as I told of the world of love and not the world of money. They walked with me down memory lane as I recounted the mistakes I made learning to speak another language. They awed at the photos of a tree stretching high, growing in the desert. They appreciated the story of ridding myself of my fear of heights and gawked as I found my self esteem while dancing on a bar, surrounded by cheering people half my age.
Finally, they understood.
And now I am off for another adventure. I am going to a place that is obscenely different from what I know. It is a world that holds values that are completely against many of my personal beliefs. The culture and its rules frighten me. Yes, of course, I am afraid.
And still I go. I go for the experience. I go to learn from these people. I go to find who I am not and who I am at my deepest core. I go to learn to trust others and to be interdependent. For in this new place, women can not be, are forced to not be, independent.
Such a lesson to be learned, in such a drastic manner....
I prepare for this move, and I am shocked and appalled by the response around me. I have been preyed upon by people whose fears have been vomited upon me. They speak to me as if I am a child, ignorant of what lies ahead of me. I have been asked to justify my decision by people who don’t know me, people who have not walked even a single step in my moccasins.
This is what I say to you. I do not owe you one single explanation. I do not owe you one single reassurance. I do not owe you anything except civility. I do not want to hear your concerns, your fears, your worries. Do you know why I don’t want to hear? Because you have no right to ask me, to demand of me, to give your opinion.
There is a handful of my close friends, my family, and fellow travelers who have the right to ask direct questions. Why them? The weight of our relationship and the similar experiences they have had makes their words considerate-worthy. To these people, I speak my truth because they have perspective. I tell them because these concerns of mine are not drowned out by ignorance.
The only thing I want to hear from the rest of the world is your own personal version of “fare thee well, dear soul, fare thee well”.