Heather L Johnson
In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful
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stories

Stories contributed to In Search of the Frightening & Beautiful 4 / 2019. These are descriptions of transformative moments in people’s lives, from the subtle to the sublime. From each story I extract a key phrase and stitch it to a piece of linen that will be given as gifts to others I meet on the road, in exchange for a story of their own.

Stories contributed to the upcoming fourth leg of In Search of the Frightening & Beautiful. These are descriptions of transformative moments in people’s lives, from the subtle to the sublime. From each story I extract a key phrase and stitch it to a piece of linen that will be given as gifts to others I meet on the road this summer, in exchange for a story of their own.


Antonius Buí. Houston, TX

Hey Heather, it's Antonius. Here is a little story that describes something maybe not life-changing, but very affirming. When I was awarded the artist residency [at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft] in Houston, I knew I wanted to come back to the town I went to high school in, not only to participate and familiarize myself with the art scene of Houston, but also reconnect with my parents as an adult. A little over two years ago, my younger brother Joseph and I came out to our parents. My dad immediately says, “I love you” to the both of us, while my mother immediately started crying. After a very intense and awkward conversation, we all drove home in silence and my mother immediately left the house. Not to return till hours later. Even though we kept in touch every once in a while, I always felt like there was so much that went unsaid, so much resentment, so much confusion, and I knew that the six months here would allow me to just be around them - be in dialogue with them - to enjoy the simple daily activities of sharing a meal, watching TV, walking my dogs together. 

I'm not going to lie. I was a little naive and I romanticized how quickly we would get along and how seamlessly our conversations around arts and identity would flourish. I dreamt of learning how to cook all of my favorite Vietnamese meals with my mother and playing sports with my dad, but obviously that didn't happen. Some days are harder than others. I don't always agree with their politics, but I am so eternally grateful for what the past six months have brought. The other week, my mother actually stopped me before heading out and said, “Hey Tín - before you leave, go check that box. If you like it you can keep it. If not, I'll give it away.” Very confused and in a rush, I just ran to the box and opened it and was completely taken away to find that my mother was actually offering me a pair of high heels. She said, “I noticed that you wear shoes like this and I thought you might like it.” Even though I didn't fit the pair of shoes, it was the grandest gesture of acceptance and love that my mom has shown since coming out to her two plus years ago. I'm really gonna to miss living with my parents despite our political differences. I don't know if I'll ever want to live with my parents again, but I'm more sure than ever that they love me and that they're proud of who I am. 

Yeah…

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Heather L Johnson