Time for my first guest post! This was written by a fan and new friend, Eric Snyder, after he volunteered to help me with Edna last weekend.
I pulled onto the street and was met with the visual of St. Enda the Sex Ed Mobile sitting diagonally in the middle of a suburban-like street in NE Portland. At first it put a smile on my face to see this RV I was looking forward to meeting sitting right there in front of me. However, I quickly assessed the situation and realized there was some stress in the air. Amory Jane, Edna’s owner and sex educator extraordinaire, was sitting behind the wheel with a trusty friend by her side and an onlooking neighbor was starring the situation down. Cars were maneuvering around Edna, but it was a little precarious for sure. The peering neighbor offered the oh-so-helpful advice of ‘you’re gonna have to move it’ as he took another puff of his cigarette.
I parked and approached the situation. Within a few moments AJ took control, tried to tune out the neighbor, and with the help of her friend pulled Edna safely up a steep gravel driveway. The stress of the first situation had been defeated, but soon the three of us were starring at a solar panel that needed to be attached and tested. None of us had any working knowledge of such things and had only done some minor Googling. The stress had returned, but we were soon on our way to understanding.
Going over to help with a few things was my first time meeting Edna and only the third time I had been around Amory Jane. The second time was an impromptu hang that included pizza, pot, silly movies, and life talk. The first time was when she led a sex education class about cunnilingus at Portland’s wonderful She Bop. I attended the class because I was very newly re-entering the world of dating after a 15 year relationship. I went to the class excited but filled with nerves. I was quickly comforted as Amory Jane and her co-teacher (Sid Need) put everyone at ease and educated us about oral sex. I learned tons of different tips, ideas, positions, and more practical information about anatomy than any public education or Google searches had ever provided me. Most of all though, I was provided a safe space where I could be curious, ask questions, and feel comfortable speaking about sexuality. Unfortunately, these spaces and opportunities are few and far between in our world. I wasn’t raised in a sexually oppressed environment and as a middle class straight white cisgender male I definitely had more opportunities than many. However, I did have plenty of cultural shame attached to areas of sexuality, and as a feminist I definitely wanted to approach sex and dating with respect.
In this short class, Amory Jane proved that as a sex educator she was the perfect tour guide into exploring these ideas with lots of enthusiasm and knowledge and without shame. That is why when I heard about her sex education tour, and then the idea of this traveling sex education mobile, I wanted to help make it possible in any way I could with my limited resources.
As we got the basics of the solar panel set up, unfortunately the rain clouds started to roll in. It seemed like a moment of defeat, but I couldn’t leave without helping. I knew AJ had mentioned the trouble she was having trying to remove the ratty carpet in Edna’s bathroom. Armed with an exacto knife type of tool, I took a crack at it, and soon big chunks of carpet were coming up. It didn’t feel like much to me, but AJ seemed very grateful.
In all reality, Amory Jane has a lot on her shoulders and she is feeling it right now. Going through a divorce (as she mentioned in her first post), making quick decisions about purchasing an RV and starting a business, and other life issues were making her feel like she was in over her head. However, amid the defeatist language we sometimes use when we feel overwhelmed, there was still hopeful talk about Edna’s future. The bathroom I was currently ripping up carpet in would eventually have an outer space theme and perhaps a floor lined with miniature dildos. Dildos in space? There was also talk of having an exterior wrap on the RV, proclaiming Edna’s name, Amory Jane’s website, and logos for sponsors.
These thoughts also perhaps felt out of reach to Amory Jane in the midst of the swirling situations she has around her. However, as I stood outside and prepared to leave with a quick hug and promise to help in any way I could, I stole one more look at St. Edna. Sure, she looked a little worn in and like any other RV that you’d spot in camp grounds or freeways across America, but I had a vision of her future. Someday, in the not too distant future, Amory Jane will be behind the wheel traveling the country to not only educate and discuss sex and sexuality with the masses, but to truly bring them hope. There are people like me out there who need to learn more and feel comfortable with sexuality. There are also people who have been made to feel ashamed of sex or abused or confused or dealing with rejection from family and friends. There are people across America that will see St. Edna as even more than a kitschy cute sex education mobile. There are people who will see her and Amory Jane as actual saints providing the safe space and opportunity to explore ideas and get their questions answered without fear or judgment.