last february, when i handed over the first ten pages of what was, at that time, entitled "on being southern baptist," the dane leaned back in her chair, stirred the straw in her tanqueray and casually dropped this bomb of profundity:
when you grow up in church, you're all like yeah, yeah, yay god! but there comes this time when you realize you're a woman and you realize that is a problem.
that realization has always, in part, been my problem.
in the church of my childhood, finding god wasn't something you could do on your own. it was presented as an external process rather than an internal one and so- to access the white, middle-aged man-god of limited power in which we were meant to believe- you had to have a community and christian friends and a building with a baptistery.
as a girl, there was a very specific way one's faith- and, by extension, one's life- was expected to look. you needed to find a good christian boy and make a good christian match. this carried with it the implication (an implication equally prevalent in secular society) that life didn't begin until one was married and had a family. a notion given further credence in my life by the fact that all the atheists i knew were my parents' single friends.
there came a time when i realized i was a woman and i realized that was a problem.
i dated a good christian boy once. i thanked god for him and prayed for our future. for him, instead of heels, i wore flats.
i loved him, but i was not in love with him, and i know without a doubt that, when we broke up, i didn't grieve the loss of him so much as the expectations i'd had for my future. that i was going to move back south and marry and have kids. expectations i'd had not because they were what i wanted, but because accepting them as an inevitability seemed far more christian than struggling toward an alternative. more ladylike than starting from scratch.
i am not a lady. i am a woman. that is the problem.
it's likely no coincidence that i've only ever been in love with atheists.
i'd rather run in heels than wear flats.