By Michelle Kiang-Hinojosa
Shoulder-to-shoulder on a twin sized bed, and we are talking about God, and god, and goddesses, and Jesus, and the universe expanding out and in forever, over and over again. Can you believe there was nothing before there was everything? I say. I imagine talking about this with you over and over again, every time the universe gets created.
I imagine the universe the size of a kidney bean in my palm and the warmth of tiny supernovas on my fingertips, until the universe grows around me and fills the room, and burns me up, and I don’t even realize what I’m doing, or who I am, or what I am, and I’m just there watching and wasted and no longer.
We talk about faith, about praying, and fear, and the gods we don’t believe in.
I tell you I don’t remember when I stopped believing in God, so I go all the way back to the places He was and open the box of photos under my bed.
This is where a man poured water over my head when I was one, this is where I went to Sunday school, this is the puffy white dress I wore to open my mouth for a wafer and wine, this is when we stopped caring about church, this is when we started going again because Lulu died, this is the deacon’s wife who looked only at me when she said that our bodies are our temples during confirmation class, this is my confirmation name, this is the smelly oil the priest rubbed on my forehead, this is the copy of the catechism my aunts gave me, this is the rosary Mami gave me, this is my favorite church song, this is my least favorite church song, these are the boys I thought about kissing to stay awake in church, these are the clothes I wasn’t allowed to wear to church, these are the clothes I was allowed to wear, this is when I stopped waking up to go, this is when my parents stopped asking me, this is when I stopped praying every night, this is the rosary Mami brought back from Venezuela after her mom died, this is the twenty-page essay I wrote about Eve’s defiance, this is the poem I read about God in a class, this is the capital G I use to spell God, this is my mother’s disappointment when I tell her you don’t believe anymore, these are the prayers she says at night for me, this is the lost sheep, these are all the years I thought I would go to hell, these are all the years I loved girls too but didn’t want to say it, these are all the years I thought I would get pregnant like the Virgin Mary for being too good, these are all the years I stopped being good, that’s it. I put the box down, it feels too small, too heavy and compressed to explain what I feel.
I stare at the photos of my grandmothers that hang on the wall, at the poster my friend gave me on my 22nd birthday that says ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE TO MAKE LOVE GROW, at the beige paint my mother chose for the walls when she remodeled the house, at the diplomas I hung up to feel proud of myself when I was depressed, and I feel the warmth of your skin against mine, and I don’t think of jobs, or failure, or fame, or being big and important, or getting into heaven. I think of how lucky I am to be here witnessing the universe again, and can you believe there was nothing before there was everything?