Molly Kay was seventeen when she said to me, “Barbie, from now on I want to be called Mokie. Molly Kay is so establishment.”
Our junior year faded into the hot days of summer. We spent our time sunning on an air mattress in my parents’ pool. One steamy afternoon, Mokie jumped into the water. “I’m done floating through life. I want to feel things.”
The following weekend, we went to a Bob Dylan concert. It seemed to transform Mokie. She sprawled on my bed in her shorts and tank top, arms stretched above her. I stared at her fuzzy armpits. “Molly, don’t you shave anymore?
“It’s Mokie, and I have quit shaving. What’s the point?” She brushed my Bible off the bed to make room for her feet.
“Hey, be careful. That’s my Bible.”
“It’s just a book. It‘s not even all true.”
“Stop saying that. We’ve gone to church together for years. How can you believe that?”
“It’s a feeling.”
We started our senior year the same as every other year, comparing classes and complaining about our teachers. Mokie ironed her long hair every morning and wore long, flowing skirts. I met her in the hall one afternoon trying to stuff a piece of poster board in her locker.
“What’s that, Mokie?”
“What’s it for?”
“The protest after school.”
“Barbie, haven’t you heard? We’re protesting the disgusting garbage they serve us for lunch.”
I rolled my eyes. A few more months and we would be gone. I didn’t think the cafeteria food was worthy of a protest, anyway.
Mokie participated in all kinds of marches and protests the rest of the year, most of them off campus. She marched to save the whales and talked endlessly about “gods”, but never mentioned Jesus.
Late in the spring in the middle of a discussion about college, Mokie stated, “I’m not going to church anymore. It’s too restricting.”
“You’re never going to church again?”
“That’s right. My spiritually isn’t blossoming there. There are so many other religions. I’m going to keep an open mind.”
“Please be careful. There are all kinds of spirits in the world and they’re not all good. Make sure you know the difference. And don’t be misled by false teachers. They may even tell you they’re Christians. ”
“I should be warning you. You’re going to stagnate.”
“I’ll pray for you.”
That fall we became college roommates, although we were taking different paths in life. Above Mokie’s bed hung a huge chart of the body’s seven chakras. The warm, earthy scent of Mokie’s incense filled our room. Strange, tinny music blared from her tape player.
Half way through the first semester, she moved in with her new boyfriend, Enrique. He promised to give her sitar lessons.
Mokie and I spent little time together. She rarely made it to our early morning English class. One day she did show up. Her head was shaved and she wore a beaded robe. She sat beside me and leaned her bald head toward me, whispering, “I found the perfect religion.”
After class, she offered to teach me to meditate. I declined and instead prayed for her.
We lost contact after graduation, until recently when I received an email from her. I pictured her shaved head as I read her message.
Hi Barbie. You better get this, because I paid ten bucks for your email address through one of those people finding sites. I have so much to tell you, but for now, I’ll just hit a few highlights. After college, I went to Europe with Enrique. We got involved in so many religions. It seems we changed our minds weekly. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we were taught. I remember when you told me to be careful of the different spirits and false teachers I might find. I wish I had listened. I was miserable, and didn’t even know it. You always could tell what was truth and what was not. I envied your gift. I got tired of living in confusion, so I read the Bible and prayed and figured out what you’ve always known.
I found a church I loved, and ended up marrying the pastor. We have two great kids, and three perfect grandchildren. I’ve never been happier. Send me your phone number. I’ll call you and we can really catch up.
I smiled and began my reply, “Dear Molly Kay, welcome home…”
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