No. 12: 🧴🥤💍
On your ‘04 Christmas back home, you meet two girlfriends from youth group at a TGI Friday’s. They debate if you’ll be able to buy moisturizer when Christ’s Second Coming brings Armageddon—will shops still be open?
You realize you no longer share the same worldview. E’s wedding day was the same as your first nude photoshoot. While she married, a virgin bride, you posed topless for a magazine. You don’t know what compels you to tell them.
“Topless?” E blinks.
“It was artsy. Very tasteful.”
You know no amount of artistic taste will make your toplessness any less shocking.
“It felt super liberating,” you add.
“So you have a portfolio and stuff?” asks M.
“It’s in my car.” Silence. “Wanna see it?”
You show them partly to prove you feel no shame, but mostly because you do. These are the girls who once held you accountable. Old habits die hard.
They turn through the colorful 9x14 pages. It’s not you in the photos. It’s her, the slithering alter-ego that comes out whenever you’re paid to be someone else. She’s captivating, powerful. She isn’t afraid of her sexuality and she isn’t afraid of men, or herself.
They stop on a page. Your elbows are thrown to your sides, exposing bare breasts from an untied feather capelet. Your eyes glare off camera.
E looks grave. “Aren’t you worried what your future husband will think?”
“If he minds, then he’s not my future husband.”
“But don’t you want to be pure for him?”
“God cares more about the purity of my heart.”
Your lips claw for a strawful of water. You know you sound like a sinner justifying her backsliding by taking advantage of God’s grace. The judgment you feel is only the same as the judgment you’d dish if the roles were reversed.
They don’t know you don’t care what your future husband thinks because you broke off your betrothal to the man supposed to be he. They don’t know you’re already hell-bound. They don’t know you wait daily for Satan’s attack.
Maybe your worldviews are still closer than you thought.
Back in LA, when a nonreligious friend asks your definition of sin, your answer stuns you.
“Sin is going against your true self.”
You’ve never meant anything more.