Sometimes, when life gives you lemons, your brain makes lemonade.
Lately I’ve been dreaming of my Butterfly Tiny Ranch, my goal I’ve had since college to reduce my carbon footprint and feel like I could maintain a piece of land.
I don’t think I’ve asked too much from life when it comes to material possessions. At the same time I’m also the type of gal who likes to daydream and when all my little dreams I’ve had since childhood collide into one solid, beautiful picture, I get so lost in the idea I can’t sleep at night.
There are two things I’ve always wanted: a tiny house on some land and a bunch of dogs. A refuge away from the world where I could have snuggles, nature, and grow my own things from the earth.
By tiny house, I mean more like a tiny cottage – blue and white with wooden shutters, all on one level, with a Japanese soaking tub. It would be elegant and old-timey, like an 1800s guest house.
It would be just enough space for me and to entertain one person. That’s all I’ve ever needed anyway.
The land would have an elaborate rose garden with a brick walkway going through, followed by a vegetable garden, then an apothecary garden.
And then… there would be DOGS!
The supreme queen would be my dog of nine years, followed by a pack of Pomeranians and papillons, my two favorite dog breeds. I would have a dog wash station by the side of the house. A mobile dog groomer would come to pamper my pups.
As a recovering Christian who still loves Jesus but objects to large parts of the fundamentalist Christian culture I was raised in, I have some reflections on Christian dating in the light of what’s going on in my personal life.
Most people know that back in ancient times, the 1980s, many people didn’t cohabit. Nowadays for the most part people do cohabit, even if they are Christians. Not so if they fall on the fundamentalist evangelical spectrum, or if they have something to hide.
This makes dating a bit like a high-stakes game of poker. You put on a poker face with the intent that if you bid all, you win all, and you’re able to feed yourself at the end of the night.
In this poker round, you are both the player and your bid. You view your date as the pot. Likewise, your date sees themselves as the player and the bid and you as the pot. What I’m trying to say is, you’re both greedy, hungry, anticipatory, and there’s more than fun and games going on here from the minute you message someone on OK Cupid. You’re objectifying each other. Is this person a good mother? Will he be a good provider? Is he a spiritual leader? Will we make a good home together? What will they give me?
What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no enjoyment of the other person for who they simply are, and there is no fun in dating.
For many high-anxiety types who come from fundamentalist homes, realizing the first time I just sat back and relaxed – or enjoyed myself – was a big deal. I was out of college and hiking on my neighborhood trail. I wasn’t analyzing anything, trying to grapple with hidden meanings, or attempting to ascertain whether I deserved to be viewing nature in all its glory or not. Nature was her own thing. She was cool all by herself. She didn’t serve me. I wasn’t here to get anything out of her other than to see what was up. And, I wasn’t here to persuade nature of anything. I was just walking down a dirt trail, tripping over tree roots, getting sweaty and dirty, purely myself. It was the first time I had done something like this. And I enjoyed it for what it was.
Likewise, I believe healthy secular dating adopts this model. You message someone on Bumble because they seem interesting and you want to see what’s up. There are no wedding bells going off in your head at your first coffee meet up. All this is is a relaxation into a person. If the relaxation turns sharp and uncomfortable, you tell the person goodbye, and you ease on into the next phase of life, whether it involves another person for a while or not.
I’m not saying secular dating is without its pains and pitfalls, because anything involving human beings is messy. But I do believe it has far less dangers than the traditional Christian dating model.
Christian dating is, at its best, objectifying and idolizing, whereas secular dating is far more down to earth and honest. If you want to get to know someone, it’s best to see them as a human being instead of a potential spouse. More open conversations flow that way because there’s less stress and pressure.
I may be writing this because I’ve been burned, but I’ve had other girlfriends coming from fundamentalist evangelical homes echo my sentiments. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to walk down an aisle blindfolded or slowly acknowledge someone for who they are.
It’s my usual early morning. Most days I wake up at 4 or 5 am, except for Sundays where I sleep till noon (the one day my religious family would like me to be up early).
As I sit here at the keyboard, I’m thinking of a song that’s stuck in my head: Amarillo by Morning by George Strait, or the unofficial Texas National Anthem. (It’s totally not, I had to sing the anthem in choir and I guarantee it is not as awesome as Amarillo by Morning.)
With all the crazy psychonautical bullshit that is going on with my health and personal life, the yearning, symphonic nature of the song really speaks to me, especially these parts of the song.
“Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on When that sun is high in that Texas sky I’ll be bucking at the county fair Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there
They took my saddle in Houston, broke my leg in Santa Fe Lost my wife and a girlfriend somewhere along the way Well I’ll be looking for eight when they pull that gate And I hope that judge ain’t blind Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s on my mind
Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on I ain’t got a dime, but what I got is mine I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be”
-Amarillo by Morning, George Strait
I’ve lost all of my worldly possessions about three times in this life, and the notion of finding freedom in that in the song I wonder is what the singer is truly feeling or if it’s a wish. If it’s a state of mind, a place you lock yourself into so you can make it to Amarillo. But once you’ve lost everything three times, I guess it’s safe to say you know you’ll be okay.
Amarillo by morning this 5am. Amarillo is where I’ll be.
(I don’t live in Amarillo please don’t try to find me.)
Throughout history, different people have come up with numerous ways to determine how to define a human being, or rather, a person’s worth.
The most common in the west is money, that ones value is determined by what a person gives to the economy. I tried so hard to give to the blessed mother economy that has given me so much. Say what you want but in the end I was its slave. A marker of adulthood is being a willing one, and I was, but I had fallen down and was thrown to the side with the chaff.
Worse of all, I am now applying for disability. I am asking money from the government, an act considered so heinous by many people I know I don’t deserve the donated clothes on my back.
Many conservative people will tell you a woman belongs with a man. I will not disclose why but I have decided my husband and I cannot do this marriage journey in our short time together. This will bring me shame from my surrounding conservative community.
Oftentimes when I volunteered to cook at funerals people would ask when I was going to get a man because my food was so good. It took me six years to find one, but it turned out to be a bad love.
At first I thought I would be relieved, but then the tears started coming every day. I’ve been listening to “The Redheaded Stranger” album by Willie Nelson on repeat the past two days.
I am afraid I will lose my sense of personhood through all of these losses, but I am doing what I can do hold on to Christ and what he says, that I am God’s child and his princess. I am royalty, even if the world says otherwise. No one can take my crown. If it needs adjusting then I do and keep marching on.
Does this all go down to the choices we make consciously?
Could I have foreseen being rejected by a dollar, or what was to go down with my husband?
I don’t know if I could have at all. But there were points where I could have demanded more or walked out. And I did try that, to no avail.
You end up where you are and there’s no use reminiscing. You straighten your crown and march on.
That’s a crown from God that no illness or man can take away, ladies and gents, and it’s on your head whether you believe in it or not.