She once showed me a Twisted Sister music video where a dad busted into his son's room and told the son to stand up straight and tuck in his shirt, but mostly the dad hated his son's guitar and the fact that he wanted to rock. I felt scared of Twisted Sister and their hair and lipstick, but I knew enough not to take the side of the dad. I knew enough that it was important to rock, even if you felt like something wasn't quite right about it. I stayed awake at night, picturing men in tight, snakeskin pants, wearing pink lipstick and singing songs about how homework was stupid, and how it wasn't cool to drive the speed limit. The 1980's were a strange time to be a child with only a remedial understanding of the way the world worked, and for the bulk of that understanding to have reached you through the filter of a trailer park in rural western Pennsylvania.
I have been writing about my childhood.
It's scary, opening all of these old memories up.
It's kind of thrilling, too.
I remember side ponytails and rented roller skates.
I remember kissing boys from the church youth group, how sticky and grabby they were, and how much I hated them.
I hated being put into place more.
I hated the idea that God spoke through his followers, and his followers told me that I was just a girl. That someday I would be just a woman. I would be a wife and wives were subservient.
I liked the songs about the beauty of Jesus, though. I pictured him as a long haired, shirtless boy with dirt in his shoes.
Eventually, I grew to like long haired, dirty, shirtless boys very much. Those boys pretty much solidified for me that there wasn't a god in the sky. There was only this moment, breathless and scared in the passenger seat of a beaten up Volkswagon, with the gear shift real and cold in my palm while the rest of my life was a mess of clumsy fumbling and wormy fingers getting into places we weren't allowed to talk about at church.
I thought there was something to it, though. The warmth on warmth and loneliness of being human and seeing the stars for what they were. Hot, burning and heartless.
Painted stars on decaying trailer by Steve Snodgrass