Blank look. “We don’t do that here.”
I got a lot of that after we moved. Things that I thought were normal were apparently not normal here. I would say things that happened while in Red State Hell, and people would look at me like I had seven heads.
Let me back up. I was born and raised in the buckle of the Bible belt. My parents weren’t overly religious, but we did go to church every Sunday without fail. However, even that didn’t exempt me from being the target of an ardent campaign to convert me because the church I went to was Catholic. I received pamphlets by the carload, was taken to tent revivals, preached at countless places. It was onerous. People said things like “What’s wrong with the KKK?” unironically. I knew no people of color and maybe a handful of LGBTQIA people, but they were firmly in the closet. This was with good reason as being ostracized by friends and family would be the least of their problems. Violence was a real possibility. Hearing that a woman should be subservient to her husband was not uncommon and was lauded as an ideal marriage. I knew one person that wasn’t Christian. Only one. Eventually, I moved to a larger city in the same state and it was a bit better. However, I still took a lot of what was offered to me without a lot of critical thought. And that’s where I would have stayed, except my world turned upside down.
In 2016, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We fought that disease hard, but it wasn’t enough. He passed away at the end of 2017. It was a rough go for my kids and me, but we made it. What became clear to me the year of 2018 was that we needed a change. We needed more support, and that support manifested itself in a new place. So I made a tough decision and moved us two states away. Here I have found a loving community for me and my family as well as a best friend who became my partner. He is my rock and I would not have survived without his love and support.
The state I moved to is what is considered a blue state, and boy are things different here. They actually do things with their taxes here! My youngest son has special needs, and the school system is actually accommodating his needs and we’re getting services that were never even offered to us before. He’s flourishing in ways I never thought he would. My older son is also getting academic and social opportunities I didn’t imagine. But mostly, I now have the space to deconstruct my own beliefs- both religious and political. It’s been a journey, and one I’m still going through. It’s a journey I decided to share with all of you good people on the interwebz. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.