Monday, September 10, 2012

Celebrating The Fringe (Sydney Salter)

Growing up with divorced parents, I lived in two hometowns: Palm Springs, California and Reno, Nevada.

Living part-time in Southern California from the age of six, I don't remember not knowing gay people. The whole gay marriage controversy perplexes me since one of the inspirations for my own marriage comes from a loving and committed gay couple whose relationship survived life's struggles, unlike my own parents.

Reno's a twenty-four hour town economically dependent on various vices: gambling, free-flowing booze, and legal prostitution. I'd never seen a closed grocery store until I went out of state for college--and then it was weird not to hear slot machines clinking near the checkout stations.

I always dwelled happily in the middle, no matter if I lived in California, Nevada, or later Washington State. And then I moved to Utah and found myself on the fringe--as a religious minority.

Oh, my god. Oops! I mean, oh, my heck! Words that I'd tossed around casually suddenly turned into swear words. Immediately my clothing separated me from others: hems a tad higher, necklines a little lower, shoulders exposed.

Within a few weeks, I found my fellow folks on the fringe: coffee drinkers, wine aficionados, Sunday skiers. And the writing community has been completely welcoming and wonderful. Every now and then I run across a shocked reader who expected a "clean" read, free from "h-e double-hockey sticks"and little bits of less-than-wholesome behavior, since I'm a fellow Utahan. But that's okay.

I've made a good home here, exchanging smiles my fellow fringies as we grocery shop on Sunday mornings. Things haven't been so easy for my teenage daughter. I love that she's bold and opinionated, open-minded and strong. But she doesn't dwell happily in the middle and her feisty spirit often has consequences.

Two more years, I keep thinking, two years and you can flee to college and find your people. That's why I said "yes" to her request for a nose ring a few months ago. The idea horrified me as a recovering nose hater (see My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters), plus I worried that she'd further separate herself from her conservative peers (not to mention teachers).

Look closely, there's a nose ring there.

That's the point, she explained. She wanted to celebrate living on the fringe. She's growing comfortable with herself; she isn't fighting to fit in with the crowd, like some girls she knows. I couldn't argue with that. There's a lot of good that comes from living outside what everyone else has decided is normal and acceptable behavior and thinking.

Let's celebrate living on the fringe! Shouldn't our characters do that too?




6 comments:

  1. I love this post!!!! And your daughter is one lucky girl--she'll be so much better off because she'll appreciate her tribe when she finds them. <3

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  2. I miss you, Sydney Salter! Power to the fringe!

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  3. The nice thing about getting comfortable with living on the fringe is that you're less vulnerable to peer pressure.

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  4. Oh my heck! Your daughter sounds amazing. Must mean that you're an amazing mother. I didn't realize you lived in Reno! I bet there's a novel in that.

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