the suit of identity

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

Within the comforting walls of our Homes, we are Teachers, we are Doctors, Attorneys, Project Managers. We’re Democrats, Republicans, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish. We’re Rich, Poor, Middle Class. We’re Students, Unemployed, Professionals, Stay at Home Moms. Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles. We’re Black, and we’re White, and we’re everything in between.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

We identify ourselves by our religion, our ethnicity, political beliefs, zip codes, our financial status, past accomplishments, job titles. And it’s easy to become trapped under the weight of those labels, letting them become all that we are to the outside world, using generic identifiers as the impetus behind our actions, excuses for our behavior. And we tend to hang around people who think like we think, like what we like, do what we do. Little pockets of people who make us feel Comfortable, Intelligent, but most important, Right.

Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

But what if none of that existed so readily as it does when you are at home with your friends and family who know you, who are familiar and relate to your chosen identifiers? If you were just a strange person, in a strange land? If you were just, You? Who are You without the backup of everything you believe to be a part of who you are? Without the external suit of identity you don every morning?

Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland

Walking alone through the crowded streets of a bustling city in a strange country, listening to strangers speak unfamiliar words, using monopoly-like money for currency and eating unknown foreign objects, with absolutely no clue where you are headed, has this ridiculous way of making you feel naked. And free.

Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne, Switzerland

Over the past ten months, I often found myself stripped down to just me and the contents of my backpack. Left without anything I might have identified with in the past, and forced to think about who I was without all the labels. Without the things we wear as extensions of Us as people. Just Me.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Because to everyone else within a 3,000 mile radius, I was just a stranger, an outsider, wandering through the streets of someone else’s version of familiar. No one cared about my supposed suit of identity, understood it, or even noticed it. And I had a lot of time to decide if I liked who that stranger was, without the labels, the support of others, the suit. Just Me.

Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich, Switzerland

Earlier this year, specifically, March 6, I sent myself off into the unknown with the wise words of the Talking Heads (turns out, NOT a coincidence that David Byrne is Scottish, as he falls into place with the rest of my feelings for Scotland). I could easily send myself home with that same song as every single word still applies to every part of my Life, but for my journey back I decided to turn to my homeland, with some pure, delicious, All-American Bluegrass.

Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia

The Steel Wheels, With it All Stripped Away. I really encourage you to listen. Seriously. I made it really easy. Just click on that link. And turn the lights off and the sound up if you can. At least close your eyes. Gave me chills the first time I heard it, and every single time thereafter. On a less serious note, I also think it should be the theme song for The Walking Dead. So. Make do with that, what you will.

Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria

With no status, no power,
No women, no men
With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand?

With no profit, no weapons,
No money in your hand
With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand?

Stand up, in the early morning
Stand up when there is no warning
Stand up when the storm is rising, all around.

With no color, no creed,
No bible to defend
With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand?

When this whole world turns violent,
When there’s no side left to win
With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand?

Stand up when the wind is blowing
Stand up when the tears are flowing
Stand up when justice calls and you hear the sound.

So when you’re quiet, alone,
And this day has met its end
With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand?

With it all stripped away,
Where will you stand.

My flight from Oslo to JFK departs in two hours. Though I’ll be coming back to America, I’m going to try avoiding that suit for a bit. In fact, I’m not even sure where I left it.

Also, this is my 100th post. Crazy. See you in a few, America.

Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic

3 Comments on “the suit of identity

  1. Hi Tosha!

    My friend Sola pointed me to your blog. I really appreciate the quality of writing and insight on display. Thanks for taking this out of your brain and making it a thing.

    Like

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