Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Things First


My name is Karl Jennings. I'm a gay, former-Mormon, recently returned to Utah after having lived most of my life in the Eastern US. My family moved East from Utah before I was even a year old, so I don't really remember ever having lived here at that time, but I do remember visits to grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins while I was growing up.

I've been around a bit since then. I've lived in Utah, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Brazil, Virginia, Texas, California, Texas, Korea, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and now again in Utah, in that order. I've loved most of the places I've lived and I don't really feel like I have a "home town". I have parents in Virginia and Maryland, and brothers and sisters in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, California and Utah. "Home" is where I'm living at any given moment.

Well, more precisely, "home" is where I live with Chris. He's my partner of six-plus years, and the one person who anchors my life and gives me a sense that in all the world, one place is "home". Right now we're sharing an apartment with two cats, Ninja, and Shade.

I've done a variety of things, just as I've lived a variety of places. My earliest memories are living on a farm in North Carolina. At that time, my parents, my older sister, and I were living with my mom's parents in an honest-to-goodness log cabin in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Pilot Mountain. It was a working farm where my grandfather raised pigs and grew corn. I'm sure he did more than that, but that's what I most remember.

While I was still very young, my grandfather abandoned us and moved to Florida "with some floozy", as the grownups said among themselves. I never saw him again, though my mother did before he died. After he left us, the farm basically went to seed. My father wasn't a farmer, though I believe he loved the farm. He worked for the Boy Scouts. To him the farm was a great big toy and he ran it like a scout camp. The pigs all got sold (I guess), and a few acres were lent, or leased, to a neighbor farmer. The rest, outside the log cabin and yard, was a mix of fields gone to weed, a nice size wooded area around a very large pond, several outbuildings in various stages of disuse, and whatever particular scouting related project had my father's attention at the time.

When I was 9, my father got a job transfer to Danville, Kentucky and we moved away. Five years later, we moved again (with another job transfer) to Norfolk, Virginia. It was from Norfolk that I left to go on a two-year mission to Brazil for the LDS Church (the Mormons). Within a year after returning home from Brazil, I joined the Air Force, which took me through Texas for Basic training, California (Monterrey) for language school, back to Texas (San Angelo) for tech. school, to Korea for two years, and finally to Maryland. It was in Korea, and later in Maryland where I came to grips with my sexuality in a long process that ended with me leaving the military (because my commitment was completed) and also leaving the LDS Church (because I no longer believed).

Post Air Force, I ended up living in Baltimore, Maryland with my first partner, Douglas. I was with him for nine years before we ended our relationship by mutual agreement. I worked for a major credit card company during that time, in their call center, at first, and then later as a network analyst.

Chris and I met while I was living in Maryland, and we shared an apartment for a few months before finally buying a house in Pennsylvania. I eventually quit my job with the credit card company and Chris and I opened a restaurant in Pennsylvania. We picked probably the worst year in the last decade to open a business, and had to close our doors after only 11 months in operation. Now we live in Utah and are trying to rebuild our finances. I'm in school for massage therapy, which I love, and Chris is working for a healthcare company. Utah seems to agree with us both, and we have made a lot of friends in the ten and a half months we've lived here. It feels as much like home as anywhere, and more like home than most places.

So that's me in Cliff's Notes. I plan to write here at least weekly. If you find me and like what you read, feel free to leave a comment, or drop me a line. It's all about making connections and shooting for sense.

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