NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
On January 1, 2010, I rang in the New Year wearing a glittery party hat and my friend’s husband’s pajamas—hours earlier, I’d announced that my dress was itchy; I either had to go home or wear someone else’s clothes. John Hamilton’s Christmas jammies were the only thing in the house that came in my size.
Despite its inauspicious beginning, I’d already proclaimed 2010 would be My Year. My birthday falls on 10/10. Which meant it’d be 10/10/10 that year. There was something inspiring about knowing I’d only see that day once in my lifetime. The Haley’s Comet of birthdays, I thought, and it didn’t take long for me to start Googling—purely for entertainment, because, Numerology. That’s not a thing I can take seriously.
But then I got to the part that says 10 is the most perfect of numbers. It’s the number for wisdom and completion, and signifies the end of one cycle and the readiness to begin something new.
The next morning, I rolled off my friend’s couch, took my spot at the kitchen table, and over a plate of pancakes, I resolved. I would apply for ten artist’s residencies and fellowships, write ten new poems, get published in ten different journals, host ten dinner parties, travel to ten different cities, make out with ten different men, fit into all ten pairs of my skinny pants, and do ten things that terrified me. I was determined to make shit happen, whether or not my stars were aligned—it was my freaking year, and I wasn’t about to let it pass me by.
Of course, within a week I’d forgotten or failed at everything. Except Mondays. I spent nearly every one of them hunkered in a booth at my favorite coffee shop, writing. Or applying for writing stuff, or submitting writing stuff. And miraculously, what I wrote on Mondays inspired me to write more onTuesdays. And so on, for weeks and months until I did the most terrifying thing of all: I read aloud an essay I’d written about my prolonged virginity. I was a 36 year-old virgin, I said. Into a microphone.
In front of a room full of people, very few of whom I knew well.
The long version of that story is written in Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin. But the short version is that a few days later, I sent that essay to the Modern Love column in The New York Times, and (poetically, almost as if it were written in the stars) on December 21—ten days before the end of my year—I received the email that changed the course of my life. “Intriguing essay,” it began. A few weeks later that essay was published, followed by a book deal, followed by the hardest, most impossible-seeming writing project of my life, followed by the release of my memoir.
It’s yours now, readers. To you from me, with enduring love for the number 10.
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Nicole Hardy's memoir, Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin, was inspired by her essay "Single, Female, Mormon, Alone”, first published in The New York Times and chosen as "notable" in 2012's Best American Essays. In this book, Nicole explores how she came, at the age of thirty-five, to a crossroads between her faith and her identity.
During her childhood and throughout her twenties, Nicole held absolute conviction in her Mormon faith. But as she aged out of the Church’s “singles ward” and entered her thirties, she struggled to merge the life she envisioned for herself with the prescribed roles of homemaker, wife, and mother.
Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin chronicles the extraordinary lengths Nicole went to in an attempt to reconcile her human needs with her spiritual life—flying across the country for dates with Mormon men, taking up salsa dancing as a source for physical contact, even moving to the island of Grand Cayman, where the ocean and scuba diving provided some solace. But neither secular pursuits nor church guidance could help Nicole prepare for the dilemma she would eventually face: a crisis of faith that caused her to question everything she’d grown up believing.
Hear an Excerpt, via Soundcloud
"Endearing, liberating, and exquisitely written, “Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin” grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go. I loved this book.” —Daniel Jones, Modern Love editor, The New York Times
“Captivating…candid and insightful.” --Publisher's Weekly
"In this achingly candid memoir . . . Hardy’s confessional tone is engaging, and her story is moving." --Booklist
"A searching, sensual celebration of one woman’s struggle for identity and autonomy." --Kirkus Reviews