It’s Thursday and this weekend there is a large group of teens that are supposed to be staying in the hotel. Apparently there’s some Christ in youth type convention going on down the street.
These kids are full bore obnoxious, sex-crazed, emotionally unstable “humans”. They’ve got more energy than a Tesla coil; and they’re Jesus freaks. Not like the little old ladies that live in your neighborhood that pray for you silently at night because you have a Rolling Stones tattoo on your ankle from that one night you and your girls got wasted in a post-college celebration that existed just because it was Tuesday night. No, this is Jesus freak like take-this-shot-of-poison-in-a-mass-suicide-because-you’re-sure-to-get-into-heaven-that-way kind of way.
Okay, maybe not that bad, but close. I mean, they leave their “Jesus Rules” pamphlets in the tip jar and at first you say “thank you” because the fucking things look like a one dollar bill but, upon closer inspection, you find that this “note” is rich only in bullshit.
Being around this type of hysteria my thoughts can’t help but to go back to when I was one of them.
The What Would Jesus Do campaign started at the end of my career in believing the new world Christian B.S. so you’ll have to bare with the ancient dialect here. A few keys moments stick out when remembering my sordid past. Those shameful days before I found philosophy, cigarettes and rock-n-roll in the coffee shops and dance clubs of Richmond, VA that ultimately saved me.
One memory, and I use the term memory loosely here because I only “remember” anything from this experience because I own two or three photographs from the event all of which were taken by an 11 or 12 year-old me with a disposable camera that was entrusted to me for some ridiculous reason. So this one memory is the youth group from our church took a trip to Tennessee. I think we were bused there, I really have no idea considering I have no photographic documentation of the ride. So we go to this amazing waterfall in the mountains of Tennessee; because, I don’t know, maybe wading in freezing cold water pouring off of a cliff in rural Tennessee is where the youth leaders think I am most likely to find God.
All I can piece together of the broken memory with the specific aide of those few photos is that I remember when that one girl was in front of me on the “ok , ok, ok, I believe in God now if you don’t let me fall off of this rickety-ass rope bridge into the ravine of certain death” and I wanted to be her girlfriend. Maybe because I wasn’t all that pretty or popular and the boys didn’t pay me much attention or maybe because –gasp– I liked girls.
AKA: that’s all I remember.
Another memory being seduced like these monsters roaming the halls of the hotel this weekend is Stevie Burch. This is a boy’s name so everyone can unplug their homophobic ears for a second but beware because you never know when I’m gonna throw another “I licked a girl’s pussy once” ninja star at your unsuspecting faces. So Stevie, the boy, was around twelve years old. I was ten and a half. The “half” is very important when you’re that young because you think at that age it’s really important or sophisticated or something to be older when really it just means that one day you’ll be writing all of this stuff down in a tiny memo note pad thinking, “fuck, if I were only 32 and a half again I could fix SO much stuff in my life”. Stevie has about a year and a half on me and he’s the coolest boy at camp. The Christian camp, to be exact, that I went to every summer between the ages of seven to fourteen or so. I have no idea what it cost my parents to send Chris and I every year, but I do know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, now that I’m a parent, they probably sold unknown livestock and maybe even sperm in order to have no children trying to murder each other in the house for at least six days. Plus, Daddy was a minister at the time so he probably got God to be a reference on the application.
Stevie had wooed me in some sort of “I’m cool” kind of way. The single moment I can actually see in my mind about our entire relationship is him sitting on the table in the common hall where we all would hang out on rainy days and I stood in front of him in between his dangling legs. There were probably twenty or so kids in the building and of course God was watching. There was a sense of peer pressure, maybe from myself, maybe from Stevie or my jealous-as-fuck friends.
Then it happened. We kissed. I didn’t really know what it meant or what I was supposed to do. And then there was tongue. I assumed I had just crossed over this imaginary line into womanhood.
But in looking back, it was all for the glory of it all. The fame of it amongst my friends who drooled over him. Because Stevie Burch was a schmuck and I knew it at ten and a half; at least in some way. He was a pretty boy with nothing to lose but I had real depth. I had a story and it was one that he and many that would follow couldn’t handle.
Camp Rudolph, located in Yale, VA was over the river and through the woods from our humble dwelling in New Kent County. We had to cross the river on a ferry. It really helped set in the distance factor for a kid when you knew that you had been completely abandoned by your parents for the week. I always had that freaked out feeling of “what if there’s an emergency? The ferry goes like negative four miles per hour!”
One year, when Whitney Houston was still alive and somewhat popular, some friends and I were trying to come up with a song and routine for the talent night. We chose “The Greatest Love of All” for our song because we loved Jesus so very much and thought it was aptly titled. Our hopes and aspirations were however smashed, burned and sent to hell for eternal damnation by some faith killing staff members because the lyrical content of the song did not live up to the standards of the god-fearing brain washed story on which we were all supposed to be choking. Whitney said she found the greatest love of all inside of herself. She said that learning to love yourself was in fact the greatest love of all. The lyrics tell us to teach our children and let them lead the way, that they posses beauty inside and to find our strength in love. This was in direct defiance of turning everything over to God. These words did not promote seeing our faults and repenting to God for being horrible, nasty little sinners. This song told us that we would actually be ok without God, because we had all we ever needed inside of ourselves. Big fucking no-no in the churches eyes. “Fear God, you heathens!” Followed with a booming “High five for God’s amazing love”.
I am forever changed, though not in the way they had hoped.
This is my first entry. I hope it will invite you back despite it’s flaws. This is a leap of faith in my writing. No harm meant to any persons of faith. My story is mine alone. You can have your opinions too. Let’s make the world go round. xo