Sunday, May 1, 2016

Living Backward

Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now.
--Bob Dylan

I had to laugh when I finally read the story of Benjamin Button. Because that is so us. Call me Zelda Zipper. Or Valerie Velcro. If the traditional cultural model goes something like: dating, college, marriage, pets, kids, career, mortgage payment, retirement...well, we've been living life backward for a long time.

How many people pay off a house before sending kids to school? Change adult diapers before infant ones? Get their ears pierced after their youngest daughter does? Or spend a year in law school before passing high school algebra?

We were engaged before we'd dated and married before we'd kissed. We unwrapped a condom for the first time when I was in my third trimester with our second baby. We uncorked our first wine bottle at 30, when I was pregnant with our third! I don't remember turning 21 because there was nothing special about it--no fuss, no friends. If alcohol had been involved, it would have been unforgettable because I would have been in so much trouble!

We succumbed to a cult as impressionable children, not as seeking adults. We were obedient, disciplined teenagers who listened to classical music and watched G-rated films. We followed the rules and didn't make waves.We were in "full-time Christian service" before we had jobs, or education. We knew the Bible before we knew ourselves. In the places where other people find God, we lost him.

As a teen, I wore SoftSpots, granny panties, and Alfred Dunner two sizes too big. I tried on my first pair of pants at 24 and had two maternity bathing suits before my first bikini. As a young mom, I shopped at Christopher & Banks and worried about being immodest. At this rate, I'll be shopping at Wet Seal when I'm a grandma!

I had two kids before discovering tampons and three kids before my first real date. I awoke to my body's sex appeal after it had stretch marks. We were each nearing 40 before so much as kissing anyone else.

So, hey, if we seem a bit disordered, understand that we are living life in reverse. We may spend hours playing video games now, because we worked our tails off when we were young. Or we may not have time for what's popular with our peers now because we're busy reclaiming something we missed out on as teens. We've been old and responsible already. Now it's time to rebel, enjoy life, and, who knows, maybe change the world.

"I have everything," interrupted Jennie.
            "Experience, too?"
"Experience? Never heard of it."
--Maurice Sendak, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More To Life

Giving an earnest anti-contraception speech 25 years ago

This year as a full-fledged sex-positive feminist


  1. Dang...just..DANG!

  2. Love this. As soon as I saw the title, I knew I had to come read it.

  3. You have given your soul over to satan. I hope it was worth it.

  4. A little late for a comment, but your evolution is a marvel. It is an affirmation of everything that's awful about religion when it's used as a hammer and everything good about taking the hammer into your own hands. I, too, had to get away from a killing religion, nothing as stifling as what you grew up with, but stifling nonetheless. I was 16 when I walked out the church and never went back. I have never regretted it.