||[Mar. 7th, 2009|07:32 pm]
It must've been the summer before 5th grade - it's hard to pinpoint those years accurately but I was ten years old, five foot six and painfully aware of my already sprouting breasts. That was the year that development was physical and mental. The younger girls I played with became painfully annoying, wet noodle smacking competitions with boys became somehow erotic, and I was envious of cleavage. What the hell was I doing those days? Riding a bike around from friend's house to friend's house, crashing at a young brat's house because she had more to mess around with. My brother Thomas, a year older with shaggy blonde hair, rode up one day to tell me I was getting baptized with my father. |
The amount of anxiety I felt is still traceable today. I really had no clue what a baptism really meant.
Thinking about where my church performed baptisms made me tremble. During sermons, it was a picturesque glass cage with a painting of nature behind the podium, center stage to the rows of pews filled with strangers. I used to analyze the details while the pastor spoke. My dad, getting baptized? The drunk cursing violent buffoon. What do you wear to a baptism? What do non-religious white lower middle class girls wear? A tight pink and purple (never my favorite) one piece pulled tightly over my shoulders expressing the small peaks on my chest, torn jean shorts. Scuffed sneakers battered from neighborhood exploration. My long and thick hair was pulled back, a large unmanageable knot caught at the center. A comb sliced through my scalp as I tried to prepare for an event that before the moment I heard about it, meant absolutely nothing to me and still in some uncanny way meant nothing but terrified me.
Perhaps the most tremendous factor of that day was the idea of my dad being baptized and him choosing for me to be baptized with him. The closest he ever came to being religious was the one time he taught me the "As I Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer before bed. He was the type of dad who crushed beer cans on his forehead, hung lizards from his ears, spun black racer snakes around in a jug until they became dizzy, and somehow convinced my siblings and I to let him test his: taser gun, paintball gun, bb gun - on us. He loved (and still loves to this day) the fact that GOD is DOG backwards. The fact that he was such a prick, was the main reason I despised Sunday school where lessons and signs proclaimed that one must always "honour thy father and mother." Generalizing such powerful statements made me skeptical. Faintly though, there was a glimmer of hope I felt that day. Like this was the turning point for my family. This is when we would go from dysfunctional to functional. A sick feeling swelled inside as I tried to figure out whether I wanted that or not. What was on the other side? I'm pretty certain the image I had of "religious families" was close to Stepford style families.
Eventually as the day worn on, I'd find out that we weren't getting baptized. I'm not certain about the technicalities but we weren't qualified - something along the lines of the church needing to vote for our acceptance. I was relieved and mortified, and it was never brought up again. About a year later during a visit to a random church while seeing a friend's grandma, I was asked if I wanted to be saved. Dumbfounded I mumbled yes, and they mumbled some prayers and told me I was saved. I can't describe how blown away I was at how easy becoming "saved" was, like it was magic or something. I had my first hot pocket that day and balloon in a tube! Those were better memories.
I attended that church where I was nearly baptized until I was possibly about fourteen years old. At that point, I was the only person in Sunday school who didn't wear a cowboy hat or was rumored to be knocked up by my cousin. The girls were separated from the guys for outside church events and the girls were forced to have sleep overs where we did each others' nails and hair. I was scolded for asking to play football instead. Shorts had to be past the knee. My cousins and I would usually skip out on the sermons and instead walked to nearby stores to entertain ourselves. My brother was the big fat kid that sat in the little kid chair and broke it - the legs flying down the aisle in all directions.
My last memory there is of my cousin Mike's wedding to my childhood best friend. I was seventeen and though I had stopped attending and was underage, the pastor allowed me to sign as a witness. As the maid of honor, I found myself nearly center stage in front of rows of pews of strangers and family. And again later - as I had to perform my first wedding toast at a wedding reception where no alcohol and no dancing were allowed. I didn't enjoy weddings. I remember taking off to the back of the building, laughing somewhat hysterically. Woowie, here I am allowing my cousin to marry the one psychotic bitch who never seemed to vanish from my life no matter what happened - the one couple who encouraged my weekly hardcore partying at their house because they loved me so much. At a church where you couldn't dance or drink alcohol.
Good stuff. The speech I gave is somewhere in this journal's archives.