God wasn’t a strong figure in my household growing up. I remember as a kid going to a Presbyterian church on Sundays with my mom and three siblings. My dad would hang back, he was never one to be forced into doing something he didn’t want.
I don’t know how long we actually attended this church. It could have been years. It could have been months. However long, it was enough time for me to locate the section of the bible that talked about some form of sex and went into intricate detail describing a woman’s breasts. Even at an early age I could appreciate a good simile, comparing this ladies boobs to ripe cantaloupe, as I probably stared down at my flat chest, wondering when I’m gonna get my cantaloupe tits (still waiting, BTW).
I clearly remember the Sunday we stopped going to church. Sunday school let out towards the end of the service, where all the kids join back with their parents. And I’m sitting next to my sister and brothers, probably leafing through the bible looking for my boobie passage, while the priest reads a poem about the church’s Member of the Month. And then all of a sudden, I hear him read a line, ‘…and her four children: Jordan, Sarah, Jeremy and Jeffrey.’
Wait, are they talking about my mother? What are the chances there is another woman here with four kids that have our exact names, in that exact hierarchy? I have no idea, I don’t know probability yet, I’m 9. So I’m gonna go with… slim.
And my 9 year old brain was right. I don’t know who was in more disbelief, us kids or my mother. But there she was, walking up to the front, us in tow, to accept her certificate for Member of the Month.
The very next Sunday, as I crawled out of bed earlier than I’d like to get ready for church, I came downstairs to find my mother drinking coffee, still in her pajamas.
Now this is a careful moment a child faces. Having not yet developed a polished set of tactics on how to pry for more information without stepping in deep shit, one must determine ‘Are we going to church today?’ The tone cannot be of sadness (for fear of guilting her into going), or happiness (for fear of looking like a devil child).
As I slowly walk towards her, wondering how to broach this topic, my little brother comes barreling down the steps, ‘Mom! Why aren’t you dressed??? AH! Are we not going to church today?!?!’
Smooth, little bro, smooth.
But she actually looks us dead in the eye and says, ’No, we aren’t going to church anymore. They just want more money from me and I’m not going to give it.’ And that was that. And I kind of love that about her. We were broke enough as it was, and this ‘award’ she won seemed to give her the impression (or reality, who knows) of having to donate more, so she wasn’t going to do it.
This also was a critical pivot point in my life; her grossly blunt and real attitude towards the situation struck a cord in me. I liked it. I’d like to think it moved me just a smidge towards the, sometimes scathingly, real person I am today. But it has also led me down a slimmed down religious path that’s been few and far between interactions, almost all with interesting stories.
So there, at 9 years old on a Sunday, I set out for a day of playing in the woods in my backyard, wondering where to turn to get some sex text.
I felt confident we didn’t have a bible in the house.