**NOTE: The following contains some explicit content and may not be safe for work.**
When I moved to the Crescent, I started going to the church here because where you live isn’t important as long as you maintain faith, right? I just needed to be close to God in the company of fellow worshippers, that’s all.
The only thing I really miss from church in the Zone is the Sunday sunrise service. The light coming in through the stained glass as the entire congregation sings is like nothing else I’ve ever felt. When I’m there I feel like I understand the universe. I feel in touch with the divine. In the middle of that, I feel not just like I actually have been saved, but I feel like I might actually be worthy of saving – that I might be part of something holy. It’s the sun coming up and the music, and the hunger for breakfast, maybe, but something truly magical happens then and there in that chapel. I can attest.
And while I could get passes to cross checkpoint early to attend, it’s barely worth the hassle – I mean, sure, the blue pass will let you walk free before curfew’s lifted, but the foot toll officers always frisk you, and they always want a little extra – money, a hand job, something to make raising the boom off-hours worth their time. And I just don’t have it in me to grease those wheels on a Sunday an hour before dawn on the way to church.
I mean, I could have just kept going to First Evangelical for the midday services, but the couple treks in I did for sunrise right after I moved just spoiled the whole thing. That and having to deal with family. These days I prefer to keep my family on the other side of the checkpoint. The Mission is easy – it’s just across the Square from home, there are lots of services over the week to choose from, and I don’t have to fool around with the possibility that I’m not welcome.
All that, and the Recent Scripture. I didn’t know that I was a believer until the belief was half way up my thighs already. Honestly, the math is beautiful. To say that I found myself in the book of Al-Khwārizmī is probably an exaggeration, but I wept through the service in his honor. I even learned how to use an astrolabe because of him. Which is not say that I’ve lost Jesus – I didn’t. I haven’t. I still love Jesus, and I still love the Bible. I just feel like I’ve been given more insight. Like now I understand more about the passion – and Barabbas, and the thief on the cross, too. And Pastor Gregor doesn’t question my choices. She takes me seriously, which is really nice, since, in general, most people don’t. I’m used to it anymore, but it’s nice when someone actually believes I know what I want.
I’ve been going to church at the Mission for almost five years when I decide. I tell Pastor Gregor that I would like to get baptized, and I expect it to be a Thing, because she knows what I do, and it does turn out to be a Thing, but it has nothing to do with what I do. Which is a mouthful right there.
“You know it’s different from the Evangelical church, right?” she asks me while we sit over tea in her office full of books. “Were you baptized when you were a baby?”
“I was,” I tell her. “I mean, I don’t remember it or anything.”
She smiles knowingly. “Of course not. But you know that in this church it’s more of a dedication, right? A covenant. We don’t believe in original sin, so that’s not what you’d be washing away.”
“Right,” I agree. Even if it does make me uneasy.
She asks me in whose honor I would like to be baptized, and I tell her Frida Kahlo, because that whole, Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic, bit, and she says that not only is that a misattributed quote – and she points at the framed McConnell poem on her wall – but it’s really not the sort of thing you get baptized about.
She quotes back more for me, “7:6 ‘I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling,’ is a lovely sentiment, too, but again, not the kind of thing you dedicate to when you get baptized. She’s more inspirational than dedicational. What about Curie?”
“I don’t know,” I tell her.
“‘Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.’ 9:1?”
“But I really am curious about people.”
“Hm… How about Goodall? ‘Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.’ 3:14. She had your birth month, too.”
She also worked with monkeys. I smile. “I like that. Will I have to change my name?”
“It’s customary. You can pick either the first name or the last name to take.” She smiles back at me. “So. You have well more than enough time in attendance and study, you have the willingness, and a patron maybe. Lastly, what miracle have you witnessed?”
“Have you? Witnessed a miracle?” she asks.
“I don’t think I have,” I admit.
“Hm. Well… Let’s see. Have you ever been present at a birth? Or at a gentle passing away? Think about what you’ve seen in the world.”
Really, I didn’t think this would be the sticking point. I thought for sure it would be about my job.
I work the party circuit. Which is great, because I get to pick my own hours, and hang out in fancy places in the Zone, and meet people that I would never meet otherwise. But the fact remains that I have sex with those people for money.
And generally, I like my job – it’s not terribly difficult, I get to be creative, it’s clean, I don’t have to do the setting up, and it’s all about fun and sexy. And because the parties are primarily business or club functions, things generally don’t get hairy. If they do, you can always call security.
Some girls will tell you that they’ve had problems with security – that they want a piece of your action for keeping an eye out for you. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had to deal with that. I’ve only had a handful of tight situations since I’ve started. Mainly it’s guys who don’t want to use condoms, but I’ve gotten pretty good at shutting that noise off. If you’re at a party, you’re gonna have sex with more than one guy, and in general, clients don’t want to dip their fresh business into a coworker’s finishing act; remind them of that and almost every time they get to rolling on a rubber.
I had one that was a spanker, and I’m really not into it, so we struggled for a minute, but he finished his stuff before it became anything like a big deal. A couple guys with savior complexes, wanted to take me away and stuff, but that’s easy enough to just turn into play.
This one guy last year decided he could stick it in my ass without asking first, much less renegotiating price, and I had to holler for security, but he smacked me in the face before they whisked in. I almost quit right there. The only reason I didn’t quit was because of Toby. He came right away to get me when I called him, and let me rage in the cab. I remember he brought an ice pack. I know it sounds stupid and small, but it wasn’t – it was actually a really big deal, that ice pack. Like he was thinking ahead because he cared about me, you know? Like he was more than my ex or more than my boss, even. He could have told me to just suck it up and move on, that it was just an occupational hazard, but he didn’t. He just held the the icepack to the handprint on the side my face and agreed with me while I screamed about how consent is just fucking important to having a good time and hitting is downright not ok. He took me home and put me to bed and held me all night and didn’t even try to get into my panties.
Maybe that in itself is a miracle. That he could be over me but still be kind. Or that he could still be my friend even after everything that’s fucked up between us. But it’s an everyday miracle – not like the miracle that Pastor Gregor witnessed. She said she watched a woman change her mind and retreat from the ledge she was planning to jump from. I mean, that’s big, right? Life-changing, even.
But, Toby. I mean… He’s just… If Toby’s my miracle, I have bigger problems on my hands than I’d considered. I mean, he’s already got his paws in my housing and my income; why should he be responsible for my miracle. He doesn’t even believe in God.
A birth. I’d like to witness a birth.