[Long read. Sorry. Not sorry.]
Since I published this essay about Cole Porter and growing up “different,” I’ve been getting a lot of emails from people saying “I’ve never had the words to describe this feeling. Thank you.”
One email in particular has been on my mind. The subject line was “An ExMid from Peru Indiana thanks you.”
It’s from a fellow Peruvian who lives “out East” now. She still visits friends and family in Peru, but says that some members of her family seem uneasy with her at times. Sometimes they’ll say, “You’ve spent too much time in [City Far Away].
“I cannot help but feel like I don’t belong there anymore when I visit.”
Oh boy, do I know that feeling.
She goes on to say:
“I guess what I am asking you is how did you break the mold on what people in Indiana perceived you to be with who you really are to yourself? Did you find a way to do it that did not result in the ‘too good for us’ label that inevitably follows such a declaration? Indiana will always have a place in my heart and Peru a place in my soul but reading your words about both places made me feel like you understood my plight. I want to thank you for that. Indiana and particularly Peru is where I grew older but I grew up elsewhere. Cole Porter knew this struggle. Of that I am sure.”
Oh boy. Here goes.