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76| One Foot After the Other

K. Tyler Christensen


I used to wear the Armor of God: a white t-shirt-like top and a white boxer-brief-like bottom. I slipped out of them at a Super 8 in Salt Lake City, as 2004 slipped into 2005, never to wear the armor again. I had broken sacred promises with the same god who had armed me: I was a man who wanted to know what it was like to love another man. No longer a worthy vessel. The rough cotton bottoms pooled at my feet as I stepped into a pair of blue and gray boxer briefs from the GAP. It felt like slipping. It felt like slipping into anything new for the first time, soft and warm and aware of the newness. The waistband pinched my sides; there was less room in the crotch. My thighs, a sudden need to breathe.

I was nineteen when I traded in my Hanes for the temple garments. A plea to God, a promise to remain chaste in exchange for salvation. As Shakespeare once wrote, this ritual exchange was an act of “dressing old words new;” I traded in my briefs for holiness, for a place at the right hand.

Before I could receive my armor, I had to pass an interview with a church leader. An interrogation before knighthood. Only one man could bestow the honor and he lived up the street from my parents. He wore a black suit and sat on the opposite side of a large mahogany desk. He ran through a list of questions. Did I tithe? He asked about my sexual relations, and when I told him, he asked about my life with other men. There had been a few. The last one was years ago, I lied, in high school. His face hardened, I’m just not sure if you are worthy.

As I took off the armor for the last time, I was among intimate strangers. I watched as they decided between strapless or halter-top, hair up or hair down. How could they know the weight of the exchange I was making: promises to God for promises to myself? We drank. Britney Spears sang about being ready to step into the world. Forgetfulness, and too much champagne, sour memory, but Spears, too, sounded nervous and uncertain. I couldn’t tell whether I was feeling the champagne or if it was the pinch of my new armor. God, and love. My argument then, and always.

K. Tyler Christensen is a writer living in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in Boise Weekly, the Tin House blog — Open Bar, The Rumpus, and The Huffington Post. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Folio.

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