Naturally, the next post in this installment should go to Julie. I apologize for the delay in post updates. I’m still figuring out how I want to format this blog. I’ve concluded that I want it to be part personal-narrative, part story-line driven, and also just a huge personal reflection. So a lot of it will include decisions, and hindsight analysis. I beg you, my lovely readers, some pardon for that.
Julie’s story is specific. And intricate. She lost her virginity to the man she married. They started dating at 15, high school lovers who quickly married after they both turned 18. They had a kid and settled down (and in that proprietary order) and moved to another state. Like they became real adults with jobs and a baby. So when I moved to New York the same year they moved to Kentucky, Julie and I were both uprooted from our home, familiarity and comfort and replanted in drastically different cultures. New York is fast, liberal and very, very culturally diverse. Kentucky is dry, conservative and, well, Kentucky. We talked constantly – sometimes twice daily – and she shared her feelings about motherhood and her new place as a wife and mom.
See, Julie was my first introduction into anything remotely “sexual”. We were 15 and I was exploring my first curious notions of whatever occurs when the lights were out, or in between the sheets, or any of those other cliche phrases that implied sexual relations. I was hopelessly infatuated with my then boyfriend, his shaggy hair and his oddly striking similarity to the boy in Avril Lavigne’s “sk8er boi”. He was the first person to put his hand down my pants. I thought it was slightly thrilling and also stripping me of my morals at the time. I took him to church and tried to get him to believe what I believed at the time. He was perhaps one of the most important men in my life, as he would be the only man I would open up to emotionally. But he wouldn’t take my virginity (and not for lack of me drunkenly trying three years after our break up, mid our sophomore year of college). No, he was only a brick in the foundation of my developing sexual identity. Julie was the encouragement behind all of it. She told me about shaving, and instructed me on how to give a proper blow job. (That one I wouldn’t need for another few years, but the information was carefully cataloged and stored at the back of my mind.)
At the time, Julie was partying every weekend. She lived a crazy, reckless lifestyle until she met her boyfriend (now husband) and met God, and drastically turned her life around. They attended church together, grew together, and became immediately serious. The whole thing scared me, to be honest, a 16-year old headstrong young woman who was slightly too demanding to be demure. Her husband turned out to be the sweetest man she had ever met. It became immediately apparent their seriousness wasn’t foolish, and wasn’t “high school relationship” status. They took a purity vow together. And from her 16th birthday onward, Julie and her boyfriend would fail in every regard of that purity vow, yet grow tremendously from it.
I’m reminded of that thought catalog post that’s been floating around my social circles this week. The one about the girl who waited until her wedding night to lose her virginity and wished she hadn’t? It’s highly relevant, and a conversation that’s floating about numerous Christian and secular circles a lot recently. A lovely, and theologically sound counter to the teachings this poor woman was misled to believe can be found here, by a woman named Phylicia Delta. I include it since it’s the best Christian response I’ve found on the internet. A lot of them happened to be huffy “that’s not true!” responses, instead of responses that directly address the author’s individual experience.
Julie did have sex before her wedding night. And she regretted it immensely. She told me at her bachelorette party. There were no details, just two shame-filled sentences. I pitied, yet understood, the guilt that she felt. I wondered whether it was enjoyable at all, and I was so desperately trying to figure out why she hadn’t told me sooner. It had been months since IT happened. The big “IT”. That night, I realized how delusional I had been. I thought if anyone could make it, it would have been Julie. But even she had failed my expectations of her. Granted, those expectations shouldn’t have been placed in the first place. She’s human, she’s fallible, like me. And like everyone. But I also remember feeling a distinct sense of betrayal and envy. I was envious because she had experienced IT, and betrayed because she didn’t tell me. And the innocent best friend in me wanted her to give the juicy details! (Did it hurt? What was it like? Did it feel good? Is it weird? You saw him NAKED.) None were forthcoming. Nor were sex details after her wedding.
I understand and appreciate it now. I wasn’t able to comprehend Julie’s reasons for not disclosing that information on the brink of her wedding, both of us just 17, shy of being “actual adults”. Now I understand her reasons. My ego survived, and I discovered the beautiful, private act of sex on my own – and with a wonderful man – 4 years later. But until then, there were quintessential people to be met and reckoned with.
And among them were, most definitely, all four of my sisters.