I told my students my story this morning. I told just a snippet, a snapshot, a sliver of how it all really was. If you accuse me of using watered-down vocabulary, I’ll go willingly into handcuffs and plead guilty as charged. But, I’ll tell you that there were sixth graders sitting in seats only feet from me. That’s my excuse.
When I said selfish, I meant reckless. When I said messy, I actually meant dirty, what your parents won’t let you watch on television or read in magazines. When I told them that the words of Bible were a million miles away from me, I meant miles from my seductive methods, my naked body, my manipulative and enticing plans in the middle of the night. Miles from smoke circles and dirty needles, from flashlight beams bouncing around the soles of my feet running from guilt, from consequence.
I paused once, after I told them Jesus didn’t mean sh*t to me back then and some of their faces were blank. They were respectful, paying attention, listening to my story, but I hadn’t pulled them in. They were just sitting in chapel chairs in their tiny little school on a boring old day in the middle of November, waiting for basketball practice, or Friday, or Thanksgiving.
They weren’t digging deeper. They don’t, typically.
I thought, If I had crafted it right, if I had told them what’d really happened, they’d have been moved. I would have seen it in their faces. It’s not liked I expected tears and counseling sessions or anything. But something more than a blank stare and a polite hand-clap would have been nice. I wanted something real, something genuine, not something polite and fabricated. I’m screaming for authenticity and getting an echo of my own voice.
I wanted to bring them there. I’d stuff them all in my Taurus and drive down I-96 to my dorm, where it happened years ago. I’d throw clothes out of my wardrobe like a maniac, piling them on piles of ignorant students. Bottles of liquor would be falling out of my closet, half-empty. They wouldn’t know what to do. I wanted to sit them in chairs and say This is where they waited for me, those stupid boys. They waited halfway into the night and this is how I came in the door, drunken and whored out to half the school. I wanted to surprise them by walking in like the drunk fool they’ve never seen. I wanted it to be serious and scary, not trivial and chucklesome. I wanted to yell at my blank-faced students, telling them how those boys should have judged me, they should have cast me away as the piece of trash that I was. But they made me coffee and handed me cards, like I was expected to play. Like I was a regular old friend of theirs. They treated me like I was someone. These kids have to understand, I’d tell them But, you have to understand…I wasn’t someone. I didn’t deserve to be someone to anyone. Not with the choices I was making.
I want them to know they have the power to make someone feel like someone. It’s the difference in everything. I’m living a life I never imagined, never wanted. But, I never wanted it because I never knew it was worth the wanting. Someone has to tell the people like me that there’s something worth the wanting hidden in all of this religiosity. Because I’m no fool–there is. There’s something worth the wanting.