It was the summer of my 20th year, I was working full time and spending every free night with my bible study group and of course my best friends Joanie and Benny, we were all young single friends together.
In my bible study group I had declared myself to NEVER get married. I said this loudly and all the time so that I could just be treated as an equal not a potential mother.
That group had so many little clicks or temporary "couples" the serious couple were all married within the year but for me, well I attended the weddings with a big smile and gratefulness that it was NOT me, some of my girl friends had no clue about sex much less about child birthing or breast feeding so I warned them or carefully advised them that is not so easy to adjust to such a life like that so quickly while being so young.
Maybe since I had seen the pain and suffering of my own mother through my early teenage years when she had 3 more babies as I headed to adulthood made me very aware of the sacrifices and the uncertainty in parenthood. So at the age 20 I decided if I am "off the market" or just like one of the guys then I can have stress free friends of all kinds, no misunderstanding or extra pressure to be someone I am not, I liked my friends who high fived me as I walk by or listen to me as I share the importance of women's rights in holding authority over her family as a partnership or equal value as the father.
That fourth of July I realized in surprise that I can't ever fit in, not to that group so devoted to the church.
On that day I noticed that even the girlfriends I hung out with who would say that they wanted woman's rights too, seemed to be distracted by all the guys and they wanted to be "liked" on that evening more then to have our usual deep discussions on questions I loved asking like "Who made that rule? Did God or Man create that rule in the bible? Because I serve God." It was fun to debate in that group "Homeschooling verse Public school.", "Working Moms verse stay at home moms.", "driving a paid off car verse a brand new car that you never own", "To live in the city or the country." and my most favorite "To have a woman as President verse the way it has always been done..."
Yet I often stayed away from topics some people blew up over like abortion, abuse and addiction.
I was a mix of goofiness, silly jokes and quoting movie lines, to diving right into deep discussions and dissecting my confusion on the bible's contradictions.
If some one burst into tears I would embrace them, knowing that this was now a sad moment not a goofy moment.
If some one was being picked on I would speak up and usually puff myself up into the bully's face.
If there was a big group game of volley ball or soccer with some one waiting on the side line I would call out to them saying "Come on, join in!" and they would often look relieved to be asked into the game, to which I wondered to myself "Am I suppose to to do that too? because I usually push myself into the game saying "Whose team am I on?" maybe I have been doing that wrong?"
Going to "Singles Retreat" that summer of my 20th year I realized that those counselors/Leaders were trying to pair us all up by sitting with us for lunch or dinner asking "I saw you give "so and so" a high five while playing volleyball this morning, he is super cute sin't he?" I would snort "We've been friends... like forever, it's what you do as a team." at the end of the weekend one lady leader said "You are the spit fire type, the one who walks the other way from the rest of group on a trail. But God has big plans for you just wait and see!" I wasn't sure if it was a complement from her because she looked so annoyed the whole time at me....
She had been watching and following me around I had noticed but I tired to just be myself like I would go back for seconds at every meal time every single time, for I loved food more then I loved trying to find a boyfriend. AND I knew that since I am hiking, staying up all night to watch shooting stars with the girls and go swimming in the lake then I needed my food to stay happy and healthy.
The girls who didn't eat all day were often asking me to sneak into the kitchen at midnight and bring them left over pie or cake. and I always did, if I got caught I would talk my way out of the situation it's why they always sent ME and I took it as a complement!
Of course anyone watching me simply know that it was plain to see that I didn't fit into with those people, but it took me a long time to realize it for myself.
That July 4th 1999 was my first "Ah-ha" moment, It was so hot as these old cars crashed and slammed into each other with music blaring and the dust flying. I had never been there before and I never went back...not ever.
The girls I were with seemed bedazzled by some new guy to our group, and suddenly the whole group of our guy friends seemed more aggressive then usual even trying to leave their arm around my shoulder as we walked or rest their hand on my knee so I instantly disliked this push and shove to "Belong." So I had chosen the last seat on the bleachers for a reason, I was feeling smothered! The social games I saw where annoying me greatly and I shot up to go buy a icy soda, I had already gotten into some heated topics about women needing to order their own food and drinks when my closest friend said "Debby get off your soap box no one wants to hear it." and she was right but I was also hurt by her lack of support. I was also declaring a "Leave me alone, I can buy my own drink." in around about way. I watched the demolition derby as I walked to the food corner thinking "I was thinking it was a horse race...." then I giggled at myself in realizing my mistake and a feeling came over me, a thought that never left me for the whole day
"I am not like everyone else, something is wrong here...I don't belong here."
As I avoid my group, as I stood in line for a second soda my already married sister walked up behind me saying "Hey Woman! What ya doing here?!?" I embraced her for the joy of our connection and for the gratefulness I had in hanging out awhile with her catching up. She showed me her new tongue ring as I exclaimed "Why the hell would you do THAT???" She looked wide eyed back at me asking "Since when did ya start saying "HELL"???....I am amazed!" I joked back knowing she would laugh so much as I explained that I had a list of bad words I was learning and I carried it around with me in my purse, she read the list with such tears of laughter and shook her head "I could add a few more if you would like?" I uncomfortably said no that I wasn't ready, still working on all the ways people say "Shit." much less a whole new word!
She left me with a hug and laughter walking back her very different life then mine I stood there a moment watching the cars crash into each other once again then the MC voice said "Hold on a moment everyone, looks like we have an engine fire." The whole place erupted into standing and crazy cheering! I felt instantly frighten for the driver of the burning car and even more alarmed that THIS was a GOOD thing to cheer on?????
I wander out to my own car, truly grateful that I had these wheels to get around! I won't want crash my car up like that and so I leaned up against it in admiration while watching the sunset to the fainted background glow of crashing cars and crazy people, my friend would need a ride and I will need to enjoy the fireworks show soon......in my heart and in my thoughts I knew "I am not suppose to be here, and yet if I had never come to this event then I wouldn't of learned so much about who I am."