For my friends birthday she got an immoral piercing.
It was in the top of her ear, the rounded rim of semirigid cartilage. The piercing was a bird, a little golden swallow. At least that’s what it seemed like to me. It seemed like a bird that could sing.
That piercing was a big deal for her, something she’d wanted for a while. Privately, and shamefully. And it was only recently that she worked up the courage to allow herself this small, new freedom. My friend and I are ex-Mormons. And I know that feeling intimately.
Growing up I was jealous of non-Mormons, mostly girls, for little things like that. Piercings, tank tops, curse words, opinions. Freedoms. Little freedoms I couldn’t have, little freedoms that were sins. Petty, stupid sins that made no sense to me even then. I wished God didn’t demand so much of me, because my life felt so small, so out of my hands. Even little choices were denied me, I had to deny myself of them or accept damnation. I had a mental list of little things I wished I could have, wished I could be, things I couldn’t discuss for fear of being labeled heretical. I didn’t realize how inane those list items were to non-Mormons. They still aren’t to me.
Little things like earrings, like short skirts, mark my freedom, the difference between my old and new selves. You take your life back one commonplace item at a time, you buy a short skirt, you paint your nails black, dye your hair red, and get a gold swallow piercing. Or you get to speak you mind, you get to tell the truth. These little things I carry with me, they remind me that I am now the person I want to be, that I am through being jealous, and following someone else’s rules. These little things make me feel like singing.