The Hill’s Author Series presented Nicole Hardy on Wednesday, Oct. 16 to promote her premiere memoir, “Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin.”
“Confessions” was introduced as a funny and poignant reflection of Hardy’s journey living as a 35-year-old unmarried Mormon virgin and is a departure from Hardy’s previous published works, which were two books of collected poems. The memoir was born from a succession of events, beginning with Hardy’s birthday on Oct.10, 2010. Perceiving this particular birthday to be symbolic, Hardy made various resolutions on Jan. 1, 2010 that all fell through — except for one.
“I vowed to do 10 hours of writing every Monday,” Hardy said. “I set aside this day, and it became my new Sabbath — there was nothing that could interrupt my writing time.”
Hardy soon began working on an essay detailing her struggles of being a single Mormon virgin at her age. The essay was meant to be kept private, but after reading it aloud to an audience of fellow teaching artists and having it warmly received, Hardy submitted it to the New York Times, where it was published on Jan. 7, 2011 and titled “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone.”
After prefacing the history of her memoir, Hardy read two sections aloud for the audience. The first recounts Hardy’s excitement at turning 12 — the age in which a girl ‘graduates’ from the children’s services at church to the young woman’s program.
“Perhaps the most obvious marker of my status as a young woman was our Sunday school lesson that week, the first of many to come regarding the law of chastity,” Hardy read.
The section went on to describe the lesson Hardy received on making a promise to God to set boundaries for any romantic relationships, and ended with her vow to maintain standards akin to those approved by the Mormon Church. Hardy recalls her Sunday school teacher, who was married at age 19 and already mothered six children. The next scene Hardy read took place 21 years later, in which she was still single and affiliated with the Church. Hardy is attending a holiday party with her mother for the women of the congregation. A snide comment from one of the women at the party prompted a flashback to Hardy’s birthday celebration a few months earlier.
“I’d had a glorious vacation including a week-long PG-13 romance with an incredibly fit trilingual Greek Orthodox Aruban dive instructor who didn’t drink and respected the fact, or pretended to, that he wasn’t getting laid,” Hardy read.
After the reading, Hardy revealed that she no longer affiliated herself with the Church, but still remained spiritual. As for what she hopes to achieve with this memoir, Hardy spoke of the outpouring of support she has received from fan mail.
“I felt like I must be the only person in the world feeling these things, but I’ve received so many letters from so many [people of different religions who] have found something in my story that spoke to them about needing to make a life outside of the expectations [of] a religious community or family or cultural expectations,” Hardy said.
Additionally, Hardy stated that she hopes her memoir will give Mormons some insight on the struggles and frustrations of single people in the Church.
“Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin” can be purchased at The Hill or online.