Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Creating home in exile

I'm working on a paper on a Cuban immigrant composer living and working in New York, and blogging out some ideas in an attempt to work through some writer's block. What particularly took my attention with this project was the idea of exile and displacement: how do you go about creating a home and belonging out of what is around you now, because the home that should have been your birthright is no longer an option?

Ways of dealing with this issue vary between different individuals. This interests me because of the parallels I see among people who leave Mormonism. How do you deal with having had "Mormon" as an identity and a community, and then losing that? I see some ex-Mormons who enthusiastically organize and attend ex-Mormon conferences, still listen to every General Conference, follow the news of the Church, and in other ways maintain an active engagement with Mormonism. They say things like, "Deep down, some part of me will always be Mormon."

I myself do not feel this way. Being Mormon is an experience that I have had, and it has certainly shaped me. I have insider knowledge of the culture. I know the vocabulary. I get the jokes. I understand the significance of things like garments and temple marriage and the quorum of the seventy. If news of current Mormon goings-on happens to cross my path, I may find it interesting, but it's not something I actively seek out. I don't feel like my Mormon-ness is something I need to celebrate and keep alive. I don't feel loss in the sense of wishing Mormonism were something I felt like I could still be a part of. If I feel loss at all, it's in not having had the chance to spend my formative years in communities and traditions that better fit my innate sensibilities. I've created "home" elsewhere, though I don't know that I'll ever feel as at home as I would if I were a "native."

What, if anything, this has to do with my paper, I'm not sure. I suppose I should get back to that...