Today I turned up at Kmart to buy essential clear plastic boxes (as ya do). Got my trolley, then noticed the roped off section and a big sign. When you go to a night club, or a pub for that matter, they have a behavior and dress code. Same kinda goes with Kmart now.

The sign says: 200 people allowed in this store.

Then, I notice the neat line.

I did what any self respecting 22-year-old would do. I went home.

Man, I used to love going out. I don’t mean to Kmart, I mean, Saturday nights. Friday nights. Thursdays sometimes. Dancing. Bad music. Bad dancing. Sticky floors. Cheap bottles of Cruisers. $6 for a bottle of pineapple Cruiser, take me back. (I just really like lolly water vodka.)

What changed?

My friends grew up.

I moved away somewhere without a nightlife.

I stopped wanting to meet randos on a d-floor because every single of them weren’t good.

Years ago, sixteen years ago even, I went out on a Saturday and I was getting some serious snuggle time with a very nice guy. It wouldn’t have worked, but whatever. After spending most of my teenage years being raked over coals for any sort of canoodling (holding hands even) thanks to church life, I was really worried about going to work. Heaps of people had seen me with this guy and I was already inwardly cringing from the comments they would make.

But none of the workies said anything.

None of them.

After an eight-and-a-half-hour shift I went home and thought maybe everyone was so wasted (or whatever) that they didn’t remember seeing me.

You know what though? They had seen. I had conversations with them while holding on to Rando’s hand. It wasn’t that they hadn’t seen me. It was that it didn’t matter.

For weeks later I felt liberated. Free. There’s irony in that, and sadness, and plain stupidity. I wonder why it mattered to me so much.

I cannot be angry anymore. I was angry for a long time about how ‘the church’ (that is, the church communities I have been a part of) can sometimes respond to sexuality, sexual activity, even having the basic concept of sexual well-being. I have eventually gathered some truths to help create a framework so that I can move past it.

The first one is this: I often think that people do mean well, but it isn’t delivered appropriately. When adults were (weirdly) trying to dictate to me about guys/sex/what have you, they usually meant well; they just didn’t always have the words to say it, nor did they have today’s current climate and beliefs to consider. In many cases people are limited to what they have seen, what their values are, and what they are taught. There are still many people in the wider church community who think all sorts of negative things about women as sexual beings and attempt to shame them. I think the narrative is growing smaller and has a lesser following than what it did fifteen, even ten, years ago.

The second one is this: I think sometimes people use the scriptures/cherry pick from the Bible/find a book written by someone and lend it to you because it comes from a genuine place. I think that these same people have overcome a lot in their life and have the: I-did-it-so-can-you mentality. Again, it’s just a different point of view and when your POV is really narrow, it’s hard to see beyond that.

The third is this: I think people have good intentions. I really like it when my gentlemen friends treat me kindly. I like it when people call me by my nicknames. I even like it when people ask ‘is it Miss, Missus or Mizz?’ I cannot continue to think that collectively people want to engage in harmful practices and that’s why I try to see the best in what I see (even if that makes me a little unrealistic). If my friend was off snogging some guy at a pub, would I try and tell her to take it elsewhere? Probably. For me the problem really arises when we make it about what we think God wants. Instead of making ‘I’ statements we decide (on God’s behalf) what He/She would like other people to do. Which is dumb. This isn’t Scribblenauts.

For a religion like Christianity, which is so focused on the relationship between a person and God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, I find it interesting that many aspects of the religion are only seen to be done ‘right’ if it is done in community. Part of this started with the Early Church, there was a lot of safety in numbers and the believers had to share their lives to help keep going within the faith. However… Jesus spent a lot of time alone and in prayer by himself, not wanting to be disturbed. This guy slept through a storm on a boat, for crying out loud. While he did spend some time rebuking people, it wasn’t because they were holding hands in a nightclub. It was for being unfaithful to God, whether it was dudes selling stuff in the Temple or denying even knowing Jesus, or being unwilling to trust in God’s promises, or trying to use ‘loopholes’ in the Law to try and prove Jesus was a bad dude.

I don’t know what this has to do with Kmart. On the other hand, had I not been there today and saw the line, I wouldn’t have fallen down this rabbit hole of forgiveness and peace. So, for that I am grateful. And I am also grateful for the promise of another night out. Though I doubt whether I’ll ever track down a Cruiser for $6 again.

I like books, rubber ducks, 90s pop music and putting words on paper. Wrote a thesis on romance. Failed roller derby fresh meat 5 times (and counting).