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Stop Staring At My Horse Beach Short
Before my family lightened up on Christianity we attended a Pentecostal church. There’s a part in some Pentecostal services when you “stomp on the devil.” People would throw themselves on the ground, beating it with their fists. I’d close my eyes, and sit cross-legged on my grandmother’s lap and feel the pat-pat of her fricatives on my shoulder blade while she spoke in tongues. “Just give God your tongue,” she would say. To me, it was always an unsolvable mystery of sounds. Those revival-like days were long gone but I still found myself thinking about things like the “holy spirit,” and wondering where they were and what they were up to.
The Books “Take Time” song and music video was the soundtrack to that trip. In it is footage of a man in a business suit being “slain in the spirit.” He lurches forward, but then the video slows down and shows him catching himself before sprawling out, prostrate. It makes me laugh so hard, but also makes me feel secondhand embarrassment. For him, for myself, for all of us. I think there was something about that man in that particular clip that initiated my deconstruction of Christianity.
Photo credit: Jonathan Porter Stop Staring At My Horse Beach Short
When we returned home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we were completely out of money. We lived with my parents for two weeks until we found some work and a tiny studio apartment. There was a single, triangle-shaped closet, and we had to walk through the bedroom to get to the kitchen and bathroom. We tucked our kitchen table into an old cellar and started collecting baby items and planning for my birth in late August. At a twenty-two week ultrasound appointment, we discovered I was carrying a boy. I had a small baby shower. We kept the bassinet next to my side of the bed because we had barely any storage space.
On July 15, while housesitting for my in-laws, I started experiencing an infuriating itch on my palms and the bottoms of my feet. It felt like something was crawling around under my skin, and no matter how hard I dug, I couldn’t reach it. I rubbed my hands and feet up and down on the sheets, like I was making a snow angel in my bed. The itch crept up my back. I barely slept that night, and woke late in the morning feeling irritable.
Around noon that day I took a shower, ate a bowl of cereal, and noticed that the baby was unusually quiet. I called my obstetrician to see if I could come in on a Sunday, and she told me someone would be there to check on the baby’s heartbeat.