Eternally, Forever More

The View From Thomas and Eve's Resting Place

The View From Thomas and Eve’s Resting Place

It’s happened. How do we move on? How do we remember without forgetting? How do we celebrate without losing sight of what’s happened? How do we live by the legacy and values of those who’ve passed? Death reaches all of us in its inevitable way. It leaves gaping holes in lives, ripping through families and pulling heart-strings to the point of rupture.

Death. Moving on. Passing away. No matter how you put it death is not a laughing matter. It leaves us breathless and without words.

Today was the memorial of two of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, my grandparents, Thomas and Eve Brown. They were parents, grandparents, best friends, and second families. Nothing can even begin to describe the place they held in all of our hearts and lives. Not one of us can contemplate the feelings we had for them and the love we have lost.

My grandfather, Thomas Brown, was one of the most generous and caring people I’ve ever met. He was always a child at heart, loving laughter and joking till the day he died. He was admired always for his charming spirit and light about life. His loving heart touched all of us, each in a different way.

For me, Thomas was the grandpa I loved and will always love. He always brought a smile to my face and lit up my day. He was so loving, so caring, so loved by everyone. He was the playful spirit that I remember. He was the grandpa and hero that I looked up to. He was a storyteller, a father, a grandfather, a husband, a soul mate, and most of all, a friend. He inspired me to be a life-long learner and always follow my dreams.

Eve Brown was an incredible woman. She touched everyone’s heart with her humility and loving beauty. Eve was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She taught me a lot, and I looked up to her, just as many others did.

For me, Eve was an incredible teacher, grandmother, friend, and lifelong love. She always made me feel loved and respected. She taught me to watercolor paint, she showed me the secret of pepperoni and mayonnaise sandwiches and mashed potatoes, and she taught be all about love and life. She showed me how to really live, and how to laugh. I always admired her laughable, loveable personality.

The memorial was truly a beautiful way to honor both of their lives. It honored not only the people they touched, but the people they were, the things they did, and the love that will bond them forever. Their ashes were mixed together, as they always wanted.  From the tree they are buried under, they look out over the beauty of Henry’s Lake, surrounded by the green mountains, the sage, and the wildflowers. I will never forget my grandparents; they changed my life and made me a better person. They showed me so much about what life is really about. They taught me how to live and laugh and love. That is why they will live on forever in my life, and in many others. Eternally, forever more.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Safety and Expression

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As I write to you now I am on my way to the aforementioned memorial of Thomas and Eve Brown, my grandparents. As I look out the window, I see nothing but open grass rolling ever onward around me. No love, no beauty, nothing but solitary loneliness. I slowly roll on through the close-minded world of Wyoming. This place feels so different from the world I live in, so uncomfortable and prejudiced. In the last few days, I have already grown more and more uncomfortable and stressed about this memorial as family gatherings rarely go well. For me, being a gay fashionista is a large piece of who I am. And as my family and a large part of Wyoming and Idaho are rather conservative and close-minded, this often makes for uncomfortable situations.

We stopped at a truck stop. Outside was an extremely masculine and dangerous looking biker, masked in black leather and anger. I looked away from him, a sudden fear crossing my mind. This world felt so foreign to me. It was so unforgiving and upsetting in every way. The people felt so opinionated. Their eyes bored into me. I stood there in my short-shorts and mustard green V-neck and vest, trying to stare directly ahead, wanting so badly to get out of there.

Many times before we left I had been advised to bring what my parents had referred to as “appropriate clothing.” But what does that really mean, “appropriate?” When I stepped out of the bathroom this morning, my father had said, “You did bring appropriate clothing, right?” I of course defended my outfit and my packing, feeling hurt. They had said “Tone it down for this trip.” I followed this rule to what I thought of as an “appropriate extent.” Although to my parents, anything but pants and a simple shirt seems to evoke the response of “Really?” I am not a person who “tones it down” easily. Over-the-top fabulous is more me.

Walking through this unknown world, I can feel the eyes boring into me, the stares following my every move. Everything about this place feels wrong. It’s so close to home and yet so unnatural and far away. I feel so scared and yet squelched being an obviously gay fashionista boy in this old western world. Wyoming- Forever West. That’s the slogan that haunts me so much. So much of this place feels like a creativity hell, too old world and prejudiced.

On the one hand, as a designer, I love this place. It feels so wide open and secluded, full of unseen beauty. But on the other hand, as a very liberal, very gay teen, I feel out of place and hated by the people here.

I understand on some logical level that by restricting my expression my parents are just trying to protect themselves and me. But on an emotional and mental level, I’m mad and rebellious against what I feel is a restriction on my expression and myself. As a designer, I am all about expression and being myself; and this world makes me feel so uncomfortable and lonely. I don’t want to squelch myself just because I am in a place of prejudiced bigots. I would rather be me and feel expressive than feel a sense of safety, comfort, and yet restriction.

When they had said “tone it down,” I felt like I did that on a big level already. I brought no makeup, no lip gloss, no scarves, and my nails are bare of nail polish. When I left today in gray shorts, a mustard green tee, a red belt, and simple gray vest, I felt toned down in a big way for me. There is an obvious reason that these trips make me somewhat nervous, not being out to the conservative side of my family and going through largely conservative states and places. But I didn’t feel like I stuck out as gay any more than usual, and probably less than normal if anything. I can’t turn me into something else just because I’m around my family. I am me in every sense of the word.  I am a very gay fashion designer, and I always will be.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Thomas Park

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Recently I started work on a project for me. And when I say it’s for me, I mean that I started this to benefit me, and no one else. In all of our lives, including my own, I have realized that ‘Me Time’ is more important than almost anything else. That being said, this project wasn’t just about finishing the project itself, it was also about spending time with my own thoughts and emotions.

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The project was started because of my grandfather’s death as a way to honor him. My grandfather, Thomas lived in Florida with his wife of 64 years. But his true country was in the beautiful rivers, meadows, and lakes of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Tom loved everything about that land, from the wild trout, to the wandering lonesome streams, to the tall mountains and rolling prairie. His love for this land was what inspired him to build a fishing cabin there about 15 years ago, in Henry’s Lake, Idaho. For all the times I’ve been there, this land has given me love and inspiration, a designer’s dream.

The other day I was thinking and dreaming about both my grandparents, and the cabin, seeing as my family and I will soon be traveling up to the cabin for the memorial of my late grandparents, Tom and Eve. And what I dreamed about was the love and beauty that both of them let in from this land and from everything around them. Up in Idaho behind the cabin, there is a ‘park,’ so to speak. When the cabin was built, so was this small but lovely area with a fire ring and Aspen Trees all around.

All of this: the love, the beauty, my grandparents, the feelings of longing and seeking; They are what inspired me to start on this project, Thomas Park. Thomas Park for me is about creating a place of solitude, beauty, and serenity. Its a place to be alone with one’s thoughts and to feel calm, warm, and safe. For me it’s my place to have ‘Me Time’ and not to need anything but a good book and a comfortable place to sit. This is where I blog from now. The Park inspires me and helps me to express to myself and the world, everything that must be said.

I built ponds in the park as well as planting some beautiful plants to make it feel like a place of beauty and life. This makes it feel like a blogger and a designer’s paradise.

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This park feels like a big accomplishment for me, in more than just one way. It is an accomplishment that I can and did make something of beauty and eloquence. It’s also an accomplishment in that I can have a place that is just for me, for when I want to get away from it all and just sit, read a book, and blog. That’s what this place is about for me: serenity, beauty, calmness, and expression. Designed by me, for me- the perfect combination. I look up at the sky, wondering what life will bring, but for now, I am happy, truly serene.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones