Forever Else and Other

You can be intellectual or sensual. Either you love knowledge, books, learning, or you crave experience, physicality, sensation. It’s that divide between body and mind, y’know? Or so I was told today. But I don’t understand. Because I love learning and thoughts and anthropology and thinking and silk and good food and that wonderful ache you get in your ribs when you laugh too hard for too long. Why can’t I be a creature of both? Why can’t I opt out and pick a third?

American culture, maybe even Western cultures as a whole, love dichotomies. The either/or. This or that. It seeps in around the edges. It’s present even in the inconsequential. In World of Warcraft, you can either play Alliance or Horde. You get to pick The Aldor or The Scryers. It bleeds into daily life growing up– in high school, you can either be a jock or a geek. They’re neat little check boxes that sound that satisfying scritch as the #2 pencil swoops down and then up to make its decisive mark. Is it a boy or a girl? “It don’t matter if you’re black or white.”

But it does matter. It matters because there are more aspects and identities than “either”s or “or”s allow. It matters because a check box doesn’t cover the gap between who you are and what I choose to see of you. I t matters because the world isn’t so neat and orderly. It matters because I like sunflowers and acid-etching the steel blades I make, and because she grew up Jewish and Catholic, and because he isn’t really “he” but that’s the pronoun they assigned to him at birth. It matters because none of us are the same. It matters because so many of us want to be seen as whole people.

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