Monday, June 23, 2014

my own mormon moment, part 1

doobie brothers, when we were here together, 1971

when i was small, one of my earliest thoughts about being "born into the covenant," (what mormons call being born to parents who have been sealed for time and all eternity in the mormon temple) was:


what this meant to me as a child was:


wear bikinis
smoke cigarettes
go on dates with boys who have vans with beds covered in faux fur spreads in the back (like my catholic best friend's sister did with her boyfriend)
play with face cards
drink alcohol
do drugs
go waterskiing or swimming on sunday

i was pretty bummed about all of these restrictions--and felt pretty sure that if i broke any of these rules i would:

be cast in to outer darkness with the sons of perdition


severing my family's eternal bonds and screwing everything up for everyone.

i really wanted to know what it felt like to be born "out of the covenant" and then to experience the miraculous conversion of a burning testimony of god, jesus christ, the divine origins of the book of mormon, and joseph smith as prophet and mouthpiece for god.

i watched the people at church and wondered how they felt inside, tried to imagine how jesus felt when he was crucified, when he sweat great drops of blood in the garden; as i partook of the torn pieces of sliced white bread and cold little cups of water during the sacrament service, i tried to imagine being visited by an angel, or writing a super long book that god put into my mind word by word, or being tarred and feathered for my beliefs, as joseph was, or walking across the plains to zion.

my imagination failed me.

and i had no burning in my bosom.

probably because i wasn't very righteous.

but still, i was like:


why couldn't i have been born catholic (i thought catholics were allowed to have a lot more fun than mormons, based on my side by side comparison with my across the street neighbor's older siblings, who were always smoking cigarettes and pot, drinking pepsi, making out, listening to that one doobie brothers album with naked people on the cover, all whilst sporting small bikinis by the pool in their back yard.)

even their wrinkly tan mom wore bikinis, smoked, and drank scotch by the pool in the afternoons.

(such glamour! such decadence! such ease!)

while my mom was vacuuming in a house dress and rinsing out cloth diapers in the toilet.

it was stunning to see a housewife relaxing, painting her nails, playing solitaire.  it was stunning to see a housewife relaxing and having fun during the day.  it was so stunning to me to see a housewife enjoying herself . . . . at any time, really.

and finally, my neighbors had cupboards full of board games that babies hadn't chewed on or strewn about the house and a kitchen full of american cheese, oscar mayer bologna, miracle whip, wonder bread, twinkies, honeycomb cereal, pop tarts, and so forth.  our own cupboards bore cracked wheat cereal--we ate it hot in the mornings with butter, honey, and milk, and it was super tasty, but not honeycomb! we had a goat, and sometimes drank her milk, beehives, orange trees, and a wheat grinder, and my mother made all of our bread.  at the time, i didn't appreciate this wholesome fare, often taken from our food storage, comprised mostly of buckets of wheat and dried milk, in order to be more economical in our diets.

i obsessed about when my best friend would next offer me a pop tart, or any of the other forbidden fruits of his kitchen.

when i got older, and i understood that i shouldn't masturbate or have sex, two things that, i heard from my grandmother, were so bad that it were better a millstone be hung about my neck and i were drowned than i commit these sins.

and i so wanted to commit them all, over and over again.

what would it all feel like?

what does it feel like to not worry about going to outer darkness?

why wasn't i born catholic or jewish?

1 comment:

  1. This hit the spot for me right now. Thanks, Lara. Looking forward to the second installment.