I am forbidden

“…and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true.” — 1 Nephi 14:30

This will come out wrong, I am sure of it. If anything can even “come out” to begin with.

Every time I videochat with someone back home, I show them the view from the house in which I’m staying, a quiet and child-marked home in a sleepy neighborhood of diplomats. The view is of a mosque, maybe 50 yards away, and an unfinished skeleton of a house. The mosque speaks intermittently and wakes me up with its melodic message; the unfinished house is a square structure of cement angles and iron bars, topped with a satellite dish. I show people the view because it’s what one must do, from a balcony, but also because it seems unreal, especially to me, that I’m seeing these things, or anything.

I’ve been crouched in this room, leaving a few times to buy Pepsi and visit malls, for too long. I don’t know what to do, because it seems unreal that things are handed to us like this. It seems unreal that things are possible, that I am bizarrely lucky and unfortunate to have possibilities dropped onto my head like eggs: illness, loneliness, parties, wild eyes, countries, cities, friendships. A gaping wound. A tattoo. An internship. Privilege, I guess, which comes with having clear eyes to see and a place in the world where one’s ancestors won wars and leaned back into their chairs.

I surprised a friend of mine recently when I said that I loved the Book of Mormon. He said he assumed that, as far as written words go, I found some poetic solace, maybe, in only some parts of the New Testament, if anything, if anyone. Part of the post-Mormon cultural elite™ that we are, people whose ancestors joined or were pushed into a faith for some mixed bag of reasons (coercion, loneliness, assault, unity, closeness, family, racism, weakness, strength), but who have gained enough access to Information to know that faith as an institution is flawed at best, we are not supposed to like this book anymore. I know this. I’ve read it. I’ve seen it used to justify cruelty and stubborn bigotry. I’ve read how its adopted myths of Israel, the dreamland, can be turned into words that strike and kill and hurt. Please ignore the preceding paragraph; it limits what isn’t supposed to be said out loud. It’s ripped fabric posing as a mother’s quilt.

Ugh, gross, this isn’t right. But whatever. The point is, I like to picture the great glowing world out in space with God’s giant fingers flanking it on either side, making eternal air quotes. God’s promises to existence are a meme, or something, frozen incorrectly in sand and print for us to distort and slow down and pixelate and imagine, repeat, layer over a living shard of breath, tease out in some song. How do I explain this to you. The only thing I can say is that they are promises, and they are lit (LIT) up like (like?) thunder (THUNDER!).

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