Please welcome today’s guest writer, Jenny LaJoye. Jenny is a folk/pop singer songwriter and vocal loop artist who believes everyone is made of the good stuff. She graduated from Calvin College in 2015 with a religion major and music minor and is now living with her wife in Denver, CO. She has band practice on Wednesdays, curates and hosts a live music listening room on Thursdays, writes music on Fridays, and spends the rest of her time thinking about what she said in therapy.
I am not a pastor. Nor do I plan to ever become one… though I am twenty-two credits away from receiving my Master of Divinity, which means that what follows will read a little like a sermon, presented to you, my congregation of scoundrels (no offense), by the authority vested in me.
I entered this program because I needed something to do when I moved to Denver to be with my now-wife. I had a religion degree, so seminary seemed fine. So I did what I always do: I observed the mold and contorted myself to fit it perfectly. It’s a cool life skill that helps you gain respect from a lot of the world, but you kinda lose your soul in the process, which is a bummer.
I do this soul-sucking mold-filling a lot. It’s my normal, which is why I freaked the h*ck out when the only writing guideline I received for this post was, “Your piece should be 500-800 words on any topic.” Any topic. No mold.
And it was only a matter of minutes before I spiraled into existential dread. Who am I when there is no mold?
None of us really knows the answer to this. We live our lives and make our decisions according to a series of constructs (like gender), and it’s not entirely a bad thing. Molds, myths, stories, narratives… they’re all things we construct to help us describe or make sense of the world, and that’s a good instinct.
But I welcome this invitation to imagine my existence sans mold. And I invite you, right now, to join me. Close your eyes, and just imagine yourself. Imagine who you are without an audience. Without the cis straight white male gaze. Without your parents’ or kids’ or partner(s)’s expectations. Who even are you?
I see me in a pair of tattered sneakers, some not-too-skinny jeans, and a “men’s” collared shirt buttoned all the way up. I’m rocking a fresh haircut along with my round, dark-rimmed glasses. The only other person there is my wife, Whitney. We’re going for a walk outside, and we’re holding hands. And we’re not thinking twice about it.
That’s interesting because yesterday, we were stuck walking behind an opposite-sex couple with their arms and hands and faces all over each other. Whitney and I were just trying to walk to the farmer’s market and would never think of falling all over each other like that—not in public.
Last week, we saw an opposite-sex couple making out on a blanket on the grass outside our apartment.
A couple weeks ago, there was an opposite-sex couple kissing goodbye for ten minutes in our parking lot.
Listen. I’m happy for all y’all who call this your reality. Loving publicly without thinking twice.
And I’m not here to complain about how my wife and I have to think thrice and usually decide against it.
But I do intend to embrace this opportunity to write and exist moldlessly.
I intend to do away with the patriarchy for just a moment and use my remaining 277 words to publicly display affection for my wife.
You know that Brandi Carlile song that says, “I loved you the first time I saw you?”
Well, I didn’t. I thought I was straight then.
But I do think I loved you before I knew you.
There’s something about the way your neck smells that is familiar. Like my nervous system remembers it from a long time ago.
And I do remember the first time I saw you smile. It surprised me.
Your whole face changed—your mouth, your eyes, your nose… it was all new. It looked like you were smiling for the very first time, and it still looks that way.
It’s new every time.
And that first night together when all we did was trace the other’s face with our fingers—there was nothing “other” about it. My hands remembered you—you are the one I’ve always loved.
And I don’t have to touch you every day for my hands to keep remembering you.
But I will.
And my new favorite thing to do is to lay with our chests pressed together until our heartbeats sync up.
I make music for a living, but it’s like I never found my inner pulse until it was keeping time with yours.
(This is all corny as hell, but I’m proud of you for powering through.)
I know it’s unrealistic for me to think that we might display our affection like this in a vacuum, without the world’s molds to dissuade us.
Something like this will always be a protest for us.
But in protesting with you—losing the world—
I’ve found my soul.
Let’s find our souls together forever.