How does a Good Girl with 17 years of Christian-school honor roll turn into a pot-smoking, "fuck"-dropping, godless queer feminist? Age 22, with a freshly inked psych degree from the Northeast's only nondenominational Christian college, I thought that embracing a sect known for its simple living, pacifism and social justice made me "edgy" in a sea of Bush-loving conservos.
I lived with seven housemates in a barnlike three-story on hip, gay Capitol Hill. My decision was partly based on Seattle's proximity to Portland, where Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating mom was fighting colon cancer.
Mennonite was the dominant flavor, but there was also a Catholic, a Colorado tarot-card reader, and another random evangelical like myself, so we got a crash course in Mennonite-ism, or whatever you call it one thing I didn't learn.
The first to know about Mennonites is to stop fucking confusing them with the Amish. Sure, in rural Pennsylvania or Kansas they may look indistinguishable: But unlike the Amish, who "shun fancy things like electricity," as Weird Al put it, most of the Mennos I've met are open-minded neo-hippie types. The Amish split off from Mennonites in the late 15th century, unwilling to part with their buggies and bonnets.
Mostly, being a Mennonite seems to be a cultural thing, kinda like nonreligious Jews. You know when Martin Luther, John Calvin and their buds were like "Catholicism suxxx" in the early s, a. Menno Simons yes, Mennos are named after a guy called "Menno" agreed.
He became an Anabaptist priest, and by the mids, Mennonites were A Thing. That was in Holland, but most Mennos trace their heritage back to Germany or Russia. These areas haven't always been bastions of religious tolerance, so a lot of Mennonites came to the U. Today, there are some 1. And then there was my grab bag of randos in Seattle.
To fit in with Mennonites, you have to name-drop friends and relatives with the most common Menno last names Claussen, Friesen and Yoder at a furious clip.
This predictable, annoying ritual is often called "The Mennonite Game," or "Mennobating" really. They also have their own cuisine, including doorknob-shaped rolls called zwiebackand three Mennonite cookbooks they swear by. There's even a dating site exclusively for Mennonites, MennoMeet. I couldn't join in Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating conscience, so I had to settle for dating Mennonite pastors' sons.
We'd all received an "I Am Poor" letter on Mennonite Central Committee letterhead to accompany our pitiful requests for discounts at area stores. After one of my first meals at the MVS house, I emailed my mom in horror, "Tonight for dinner we had bread, Jello and a white sauce with eggs and ham in it that you were supposed to pour over the bread and eat.
But mostly having no money was fun. The baby of the house, year-old blond Micah, pulled out a block that required him to drop trou leading to about 60 slurred realizations of "I have no pants! Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating
Then, right after we all got back from Christmas, I got the call I'd been dreading. My mom had only a couple of weeks to live.
The night before, one of the Mennos and I had playfully stuffed the creepy inflatable Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating up the chimney: Now I was crumpled in a corner of the handicapped stall at work, fetal and wracked with ugly sobs.
I booked a train ticket home and got there three days before she died. I'd never witnessed someone dying before. It was an ugly, terrifying experience.
She coughed up black bile reminiscent of something on The X-Filesand in her Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating moment, cried out with an unmistakable, sharp wince of fear. What was there to be afraid of if heaven were real, as my mom so steadfastly believed? So I felt like I couldn't share with her before she died that my own faith had started to unravel. The one person I needed spiritual advice from most, because of my mom's death, was my mother. My dad snapped a polaroid of me and my best friend right before my Mom's funeral or rather, "memorial service," the apparently more hopeful Christian term.
I'm wearing an ill-fitting white tank top under a ratty black cardigan with a glassy smile that doesn't meet my eyes. That sums up the weeks after my mom's death: I wrote her obituary and fielded phone calls from crying relatives and strangers in a dense haze. All the while, my belief in a good God, Jesus and All That weakened like wet toilet paper. That process had started with my mom's diagnosis my junior year of college, but now faith was downright impossible.
Yet I felt conflicted, an ungrateful Bad Seed. Shouldn't I have been thankful for the Christian upbringing my parents gave me, especially since neither of them grew up religious? They found God in their early 20s, right when I lost him. My virginity, unforch, would take another few years. Even the decision to do MVS was a parent-pleasing move, as I'd heard about it Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating one of my mom's colleagues at the Christian college where she taught.
Without her, I was frighteningly untethered, spiritually and emotionally. And yet I was reluctant to lean on my new housemates.
Our friendships had been pretty superficial so far, based on bitching about our volunteer jobs and holding each other's hair to puke in the flowerbeds. A bad day was missing the bus or getting soaked in the rain, not an existential crisis.
Amish vs mennonite yahoo dating was worried our friendships couldn't bear the strain of something serious. But after my mom passed, my housemates flooded me with concerned emails and a care package with snacks and a mix CD one of the songs was from Darrin's Dance Groovesof course.
And all seven came to my mom's funeral, even though it was a four-hour drive from Seattle. I came back to Seattle three weeks later, and my sister flew back east to finish her junior year of college.
I felt increasingly alone, scrounging for solace on LiveJournal or from faraway college friends. Mostly I spent a lot of time in my room, listening to "Winter Sun" by Rah Rah until the sadness quieted. That summer, I planned my dad's 50th birthday party in aching solitude, and on the Fourth July, I found myself slumped on the tiny deck outside my bedroom at the MVS house. Smoking a cigarette in belated teen-angst style, I was nose-deep in despair and self-pity.
I heard my housemates laughing up on the roof, perched to catch the Seattle fireworks, and resented them. Then I heard, "Where's Holly? I dragged myself up to join them and accepted their cautious attempts to hug me without falling off the roof.
For the moment, even without God and my mom, life was almost okay. This post was originally featured on Medium. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.