When we last left the little redheaded girl, she had just purchased a plane ticket to British Columbia to be with Liam – a man she had met and been with for one night and spent many hours talking on the phone with.
One conversation over the Christmas holidays was particularly memorable. We talked about sex and marriage and he said “You know really, we shouldn’t be having sex with each other until we’re married.”
Pardon me? Say again? Are you for real? Do people who think this way actually still exist?
I’d never even heard such a thing. Thought it was from times past. Still, there was something very powerful about the notion that I was worth waiting for and it struck a chord in my nomadic heart.
My last week of stripping was kind of epic and kind of anti-climactic at the same time. It was epic in my mind because I somehow knew this was the end of the line for me. I did the best shows of my entire life. I was lightning and thunder and ecstasy on stage. Looking for connection on and off stage.
At one point I was in the washroom with another stripper and she asked me where I was going next week.
“B.C. actually. But I’m not working. I’m going to be with a man I met. I think this might be it. I think this might be my last week ever.”
She stopped putting on her makeup and looked at me in the mirror. “Oh, you’ll be back.”
“No, I won’t. I won’t be back.”
And that was that.
When I came out to British Columbia, I left absolutely everything behind. My apartment, my furniture, my beloved books. My altar. My work and means of financial independence. My art and mode of self expression. All my friends and family. My culture. Identity. My geography. My drinking habits. The food I ate.
Everything was different. I went from Ontario big city life to a village of 150 people on the Pacific Ocean. Living with a total fucking stranger. Recipe for success, right? God, what was I thinking?
Liam and I began the odd dance of getting to know each other in real life. One thing I hadn’t really known about him was that he was an alcoholic with 2 DUI’s who had quit drinking a mere 2 weeks before I arrived.
When I arrived, he flew me to his place in the village (which seemed romantic at the time but was actually because of the DUI) and I began to understand just how remote it was. I started to freak out. Was he going to kill me now? I actually asked him that.
Later he took me on a hike. The witches’ hair moss dripped off the trees in the rainforest. Everything was so lush and green. Wet. We approached a small lake and as I watched the sun burned the fog off the lake in one of the most beautiful and dramatic natural shows I’ve ever seen. I wept. Felt like that show had been put on just for me.
We’d been talking a lot about the jesus guy. A lot. Liam had been born Catholic, gone to Catholic school and believed but didn’t really practice. At 21 he’d had a born again experience and gone to a Baptist church for a couple of years but went back to his hard core partying ways. His drinking was out of control. He was putting his truck in the ditch about once a month driving drunk. Terrorizing his village. He told me he had been praying for me for two years. For the right woman to come into his life. And fucking save him.
We walked down that trail and we talked about the jesus guy. I had asked a lot of questions. Most of them regarding gender. My understanding was that there was no female in Christianity save the good old perfect virgin Mary and the former but now reformed whore Mary Magdalene. As I mentioned in part 1, my spiritual experience of the prior decade had been deliberately primarily female. I laser beamed the Sacred Female into my psyche to counter a lifetime of male-centric spirituality. At this point, I felt primed to finally welcome the male energy for balance towards wholeness. It made logical sense to me. You needed the yin and the yang to make a whole. To make a new life. I was allowing that logic into my mind.
Liam told me that he felt the Holy Spirit was female. I could get down with that. God. Goddess. Christ. Yes. That made sense. Even though it was STILL two thirds male, I could live with the logic. Christ had to have come as a male or no one would have listened anyway. If he’d come as female he would have been raped and stoned for adultery within the first week of her/his ministry.
So on that trail, I talked to the jesus guy. Talked out loud like I do. Like I had done with The Source prior. Said I was ready. Did that crazy fucking sinner’s prayer they talk about. Jesus, come on in to my heart.
I know, I’m cringing too.
And then I had this thought pop into my head:
“Holy Has No Gender”
And I was flabbergasted. And I started to laugh. What a revelation!!! DUH!!! I laughed really hard. Like, maniacally. And I tried to walk back to the main trail and I smacked my kneecap really hard on a big rock. And I shouted.
And I laughed even harder. And started crying. While I was laughing. And I think I was fucking loopy. And I put a lot of credence into that experience. I found out years later that it was the feast day of St. Paula. Coincidences. I get lots of them. Big ones. Dramatic ones. They’re hard to resist.
And I went full tilt, as one does, as I do, from there. I became great friends with Karry, a relatively new jesus person who lived down the road from me in my tiny village. I saw her almost every day for 5 years. She was matron of honour at our wedding. After a lifetime of short term or long distance friendships with women, she was a huge and wonderful part of my life. She played part mom, part big sister. Friends. We bonded hard. Went to retreats, met weekly for a small group with a few other couples. I’d never had a relationship like this before in my life with a woman. It was so intimate. We poured ourselves out to each other, both healing from a lifetime of pain. Our friendship validated my spiritual beliefs.
I became a working part of the church community. I was a part of a larger community. For the first time since I was a child. And they loved me. They loved us. They were kind and became our friends. Fed us. Married us. Loved us. Even as they used us. And you know, I just picked the church that was closest to me. That’s all. I An Anglican church. Evangelical Anglican if you want to really get the flavour. But that church happened to be in the thick of a big old kerfuffle that was making national news at the time.
The Anglican Church in Canada had just given the go-ahead for blessing Same Sex unions and some folks were losing their shit. Folks in my congregation for example. In fact, they were so upset, they left the umbrella of the ACIC and sought more conservative leadership from Bishops in Rwanda. The ACIC owned the church building so this little congregation lost their church building over it. And what a feeling of martyrdom that gave everyone! We were really being persecuted! Just like Jesus! I was actually on the cover of the local paper over this shit along with so many others in the congregation. Yes. I WAS. That’s like a gold star on my Wall of Fucking Shame.
Oh, this is taking just TOO long to tell. And I’m beginning to bore myself. There is SO much to it that the memoir will only be able to do it justice. To explain to my daughter HOW I made that leap. How did I make the leap from ‘everyone deserves human rights’ to ‘except you guys. You guys can’t get married.’ Like, WHAT THE FUCK? I guess that is what matters most because the mindset is everything in life. So that’s what we’ll do in Part 3. We’ll see how I took that leap and how I came back to my senses. And that will be enough torture for one series, don’t you think?