An astronaut pulls on her helmet as the countdown starts.
A sculptor smeared in clay stands back to examine his work.
A crowd in grainy black and white marches forward.
There are no limits, you tell me.
But you ask me to identify with a checked box.
You ask me to explain myself with a drop-down list.
Find my role. Climb inside. Don’t move.
I can spend my waking hours figuring out who I am, but that’s not what you want to hear.
You want me to be something you already know.
So when I don’t fit into your existing mold, you ask me to cut myself up into recognizable pieces so I can slip through the door of a system built for someone else.
When I step over the threshold, I leave my severed identities as if they’re only shoes at the door.
I push back the fear that they won’t be there when I return.
That I’ve chosen to accept one piece over another.
Discover or create.
Create or create change.
Cooperative or independent.
Jewish or Chinese.
Feminine or strong.
Two roads diverged in a wood and you asked me to pick one.
Written as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar at the University of Washington.