The LadyMo I think of is not Mormon. That is to say, I met her pre-Mormon conversion story, and to me she will always be the loud, boisterous girl from freshman year of college. We met when she was hosting an impromptu Hanson dance party at 2 in the afternoon in a friend’s dorm room, and as soon as I heard her laugh I knew we’d be friends. No matter what LadyMo decides to do with her life, who she becomes or what paths she takes in life – she will always be this girl to me. I also do not think of LadyMo as “LadyMo.” I think of her as my Lasagne Twin, beef Cake, or Beefy. To her, I am Porkchop, or Chips.You can refer to me as Chips. However, after reading through LadyMo’s blog, it becomes apparent to me that who she was then and who she is now is not all that far apart: a teacher. She doesn’t know this about herself, but she’s a phenomenal teacher.
The purpose of this guest blog is kind of an open letter; partially to LadyMo, partially to the Mo’s, and partially to myself. It’s a little long, but I hope you all will bear with me. So, here we go.
LadyMo and I became immediate friends for a number of reasons, not just our love for loud dance parties. We both were recently-failed Catholics, but at such a young age we were struggling to understand why. I grew up in a very small town, with very small minded people; while I knew I could no longer adhere to the tenants of the Catholic Church, I couldn’t figure out why. Talking with LadyMo helped me figure out all of that; more than she probably knows. To LadyMo and I, at the age of 18, debating was something you did to prove how adverse and smart you could be – you know, the usual late-teen “I know everything there is to know, I have it all figured out” kind of attitude. Having someone question me on my beliefs, talk about my doubts, and figure out what I believed was essential to my growing-up. It wasn’t until talking to LadyMo about her family that I realized I could no longer sit in a church that told me some of my best friends and family members were sinners because of who they chose to love. This was something I had always felt, but could never articulate because I had never had someone to challenge me.
LadyMo and I split from the Catholic Church for different reasons, and our lives have taken very different paths. LadyMo’s departure came from her anger towards God; mine came from the inability to subscribe to a church that condoned such things has using parishioner’s monetary offerings towards anti-abortion marches and the counseling of homosexuals to become heterosexual. Also, after my mother divorced there were many who thought we should no longer be allowed to be part of the Catholic Church, all because she did not want to get an annulment. Not exactly “love thy brother and sister” kind of stuff, is it?
Anyway, LadyMo’s journey took her to the Mormon Church and mine … well; you might call me a free spirit. I believe that there is a higher power that created this world, and that there is a place I will go to when I die where I can once again hold my beloved Grandfather’s hand while we walk to an OTB like we did when I was a child (only in that awesome place, the horse he bets on will finally win). I believe that higher power is called God. I believe it’s also called Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, and any number of Hindu gods you can name. At the end of the day, I believe we all pray to the same God/being, we just choose which way makes the most sense to us. Some go to church every Sunday, some go to synagogue every Saturday, some go to temples, and some of us go to Bikram yoga to have our butts handed to us on a silver platter (a sweaty silver platter at that) to talk with God. We choose the way we worship, and that way is no more right than any other. They all work, and they’re all beautiful; God doesn’t care, it’s just happy you picked up the phone to call. I believe religious texts are helpful, but ultimately were written by men trying to make sense of the world around them and are wonderful works of literature. One text holds no more answers than another, and they all serve as guidelines, counselors, and references for how one might choose to live one’s spiritual life. I have finally come to a place that makes me happy, fulfilled, and more connected to God than ever before. (And yes, I know Buddha wasn’t a deity, but humor me).
Once LadyMo and I left college and went our separate ways for graduate school, I felt like a limb had been ripped off of me. LadyMo is a bright shining sun that for four years beamed down on me and helped me grow in to the person I am today. I believe God brings people in to our lives for a reason, and at the right time. I needed LadyMo when I entered college, and moving away from her made things cloudy and gray for the first time in a very long time. But like the great teacher she is, LadyMo taught me how to suck it up and grow some balls. LadyMo refers to 2009 as the year of suck – I refer to it as the year I don’t know how she survived. Whenever I talked to LadyMo, I did the best I could as a friend to provide the love and support she needed. I also put my own life in to perspective, and learned how to live and be on my own. She supported me with her strength to get by while I learned to support myself, and I’m not sure she was aware of it.
This is one thing LadyMo does not know about herself, that maybe the rest of us can help her see: she is one of the best teachers to have ever existed. From what I have read, you Mos have done a great job teaching her about the Mormon religion; but I think we can all agree she has done an even better job teaching us about ourselves. She may test our patience, but the end result is always worth it.
When I first figured out that LadyMo had joined the Mormon Church, it was through another college friend. I hadn’t heard from LadyMo in a while, which was not uncommon as we both got very busy with our graduate school work and our new lives in our new places. We had talked a few times over a year and I had heard of MoBoy, but that was the extent of it. When I learned from this friend that she had joined the church, I will be the first to admit that I was hurt she had not told me. I of course was not thinking about what she was going through, just that I felt like I had lost a best friend.
Here’s something you should know about me: I’ve never been good at sharing. When it comes to things like food and personal possessions, I’m a little better. But when it comes to friends, well … I’ve peed on that tree, and it’s mine, so back off. Not one of my more charming qualities :-). I didn’t contact LadyMo for a long time because, as I stubbornly thought, she didn’t feel the need to include me in her life, so why should I include her in mine? We had clearly gone separate ways, and there was nothing else I could do about it. I felt she had made a choice, and that choice was the Mormon Church. I also admit I felt resentment towards the Mormon Church for taking my best friend away. Please don’t ask me why I felt jealous of an entire church and thought the entire church itself was responsible, but jealousy does silly things to us. Sorry, Mo’s!
Well, clearly I was wrong. It was just last week that LadyMo texted me about my visit to Kansas a few years ago, and we got a dialogue going. If there’s one thing I’m good at doing, it’s expressing myself. I just can’t keep a lid on it. What can I say, I’m Italian, and we tend to feel things more strongly than others. So I confronted LadyMo about everything I felt. No matter what, she was still one of my best friends and I considered her like a sister, so she deserved my complete honesty. And that honesty was: “I miss you, and please don’t stop talking to me just because I am a liberal free spirit who likes to walk in the woods to talk to God rather than go to church.”
Her response: “I work 75 hours a week, don’t have internet or cable, and haven’t had time to contact anyone, even my family. I’m so sorry I made you feel that way, but I love you Chips!”
Guess I overshot that one! LadyMo and I talked more; she told me a little bit about becoming Mormon and directed me to her blog so I could read the whole story. Once again, LadyMo teaches me something: humility and understanding. Sigh. You know how she likes to always be right? Well, so do I. Maybe it’s an Italian thing. All I know is, LadyMo tends to prove me wrong and I usually reluctantly admit that I am wrong. It’s easier to admit my wronginess with her though, since it’s usually followed by a dance party.
“Chips,” you say, “enough with all the words. Why should I care about any of this?”
Maybe you don’t need to care about where I stand spiritually, and maybe you don’t need to care about how I met LadyMo and how she became one of the dearest people in the world to me. But what I want the Mo world to know about my beloved Lasagna twin, my Beefy, is that once she is in your life she is in it forever. Treasure it. She will make you dance, sing, giggle, argue, and learn. She is the greatest teacher I know. She will teach you how to shake your booty to ridiculous pop music, eat at an Indian lunch buffet until your stomach is about to burst paneer all over the walls, debate topics you don’t fully understand until you know exactly where you stand, and to love until you don’t think you can without crying for joy. LadyMo’s blog taught me what a spiritual journey can look like, and how that has to be done on one’s own terms; even if that means separating oneself from others for a while. It’s not an offense to any of those people; it’s just something that has to be done alone. For all she thinks she does not know, I often feel she knows much more than anyone.
LadyMo will continue to teach me, and I’m sure there will be many dance parties when I realize how wrong I am. For instance, I’m getting better at sharing. I no longer feel an irrational jealousy at an entire group of people for taking care of my best friend. Instead, I want the Mo’s to know that because they love LadyMo, and have been taking care of her, I love them. If I could give every Mo who took part in her conversion a big ol’ hug with a side of veggie lasagna, I would. I love LadyMo somethin’ fierce, and I hope you do too. I hope she teaches you a lot, and I hope there are many dance parties when you realize she is sneakily right. She’s good at that.