Through the years I have learned that it takes me approximately two hours to get ready to leave my place after I wake up in the morning. I'm not sure why I was thinking about this, but it was a really important concept to me at the time. This morning we all left the house before the time I had told the girls that we needed to leave. This like, never happens. If there is an anti-horror movie that could be made perhaps this morning and these events could be used. Mom - expects anger, attitude, passive or outright hostility, tension, comments, etc..., meanwhile the children expect an overly authoritarian tone, constant reminders, stress, tension, comments, attitude, anger, tears, outbursts, etc..., to have very little of this was downright shocking and left me very unprepared for the sequel. The girls drove separately to church and I half expected them to be very late or not show up at all.
Let me back up for a moment and explain that one of the first things I saw when I woke up this morning was a text from my sister reminding me that church was at 9:00 AM, and that she would bring an extra Bible for me or anyone else who needed one. Before I left I put my small Bible into my purse, put the water bottles into my backpack, and made it most of the way down the stairs before I remembered that I had left my purse sitting on the small table near the top of the stairs where I habitually keep it. I asked my youngest who was closest to the kitchen to grab it and then had a moment when she had no idea where this was. We have lived here for almost a year and I feel like I keep my things in that spot routinely, this is how anxiety works. Presumably she is legitimately bewildered by the request and my explanations are unclear. To me it seems as if this is information she should know, but I forget that she lived at school during the school year and isn't as used to this system as her sister.
I tell her sister that I must have been unclear and I meant that. We leave and I warn the girls that it is very wet as if they can't see the pooled water or feel the slash of it against their skin. I'm glad I wore clothes that were warm as I trudged to my vehicle. I had assumed the girls would be riding with me and had a moment of, I don't know what to call it when they went to the other vehicle. I drove by myself in high winds and extremely wet roads, slipping several times and praying that my children were driving at conservative speeds and mindful of how close they were following other vehicles. I see my family is already seated and am surprised when my sister gets up rather than just sliding down to let me into the pew. We are sitting in the last row, my two youngest nieces are there and I am momentarily comforted by the youngest who is wearing a pink long sleeved shirt that says; I love you. Her other piece is a pair of very comfy off white pants and I jokingly ask my sister why she wasn't wearing her pink shirt and white pants.
Most of church is going through the motions for me. I want to be paying better attention, but have a long standing habit of allowing my mind to wander whenever it is permitted to take a break from whatever is being said by others. My niece is putting paper into her mouth, making unintelligible noises, and bouncing up and down when she wants to see something better. She's almost a year old and her hair is a downy white while her eyes are a very clear blue. I suddenly remember my children being that age and how tense, angry, and fearful those days were. I pray she has a bright future ahead and want to start crying when she smiles at me for no reason other than she probably recognizes me since I've seen her more recently lately. We sing hymns, my children are on the other side of my nieces and their dad, I look over and see one of them is wearing my mom's long old lady trench coat. It makes me smile and I start to relax, putting aside job related worries and previous family drama for the moment.
My mom asks what the plan is and I'm immediately transported back to childhood when I heard this phrase so regularly it became one I adopted myself, one of those - I'm turning into my mom - moments I suspect some of us have from time to time even though I swore I would be nothing like her when I grew up. I tell her I'm exhausted and won't be going to Bible class, she's disappointed, but resists the urge to challenge it although I can see from her face and posture that she's about to say something she knows won't go over well. I tell the girls something and can hear my sister asking them about Bible class. Since they went to church without much of an argument other than pulling pillows over their heads when I tug on their toes and tell them it's time to get up I figure we can take a flyer on Bible class even though I enjoyed it last time I went.
To my complete shock my sister is able to persuade them to go, I hate it when people bribe and cajole others, but my sister does this and it works. Lured by the promise of snacks the girls go downstairs willingly and I feel a complex spectrum of turbulent emotions as I follow them. I estimate there are about forty people down in the basement. Spread out on two six to eight food tables are what seems like a gluttonous and hedonistic spread of goodies. Oreo cookies, animal crackers, someone has written 'Lemonade 'Brownies'' on a small sign and attached it to a container of what looks like very tall lemon bars boasting a creamy glazed top. A box of frosted chocolate doughnuts sits next to half a dozen varieties of International Creamer. There are bags of popcorn, my youngest grabs a bag of Lays potato chips, and I see my sister carrying a large glass of red Hawaiian fruit punch. There is also a bottle of apple juice, one of grape, and an almost empty container of V-8.
I do not feel good about the parade of people going back and forth, like birds at a feeder in a protected area. Almost everyone is overweight, the woman who sat directly in front of me is a stark contrast. She is wearing a long white linen tunic that would have been a wrinkled humid mess on most others. Beneath that she has a red shell tank, a pair of black Capri length leggings, and shiny dark red heels. Her necklace matches the heels and her lipstick is so bright I have no trouble spotting it from across the room. It seems as if she is joining me in silent condemnation of the grazers as her thin wrist displays an expensive looking watch that complements her iron colored hair. Class begins and I relax somewhat. I'm able to pay better attention that I had upstairs, but I don't really say anything, trying to listen to what others have to say and feeling out of my element since I haven't attended Bible class in decades apart from the stint last Sunday.
Finally I have an opportunity to contribute. The pastor says something about a particular logical fallacy, after listing straw man, and several others. I mention ad hominem as the fallacy he knows, but has temporarily forgotten. He looks up as if he can't figure out who made the comment, I don't think he was really expecting anyone to say anything and then I feel silly since I had blurted it out without raising my hand. The basement is cold, damp, it needs to be redecorated. I realize I am reliving a time when the church was a much larger part of my life, but I had a lot less control than I do now. I'm reminded of sitting in an upper room listening to my father speak. It's blazing hot in the windowed room, around us are hangings of long dead saints and tributes to their deaths; beheading, upside down crucifixion, a knife commemorating the removal of flesh from a living body, it's hard to imagine being flayed or stoned as the voices of playing children carry up to our sunlit room.
I drive home feeling unwell. I lie down and sleep for several hours. When I wake up I am filled with dread that has no real life basis. I am making more money than ever, I'm making progress with my children and family, I'm listening to music I love, swapping songs with a guy I find attractive who wants to road trip to Nashville. We go back and forth for a while, the conversation starts with him telling me he hasn't done much on his day off and doesn't feel productive. I urge him to relax, we discuss our various vacation and road trip ideals, Led Zeppelin is prominently featured, I learn about a band I have never listened to before and introduce him to some really old music that is new to him. I ask my daughter if she wants to go somewhere. She tells me she has already left the place once today and I tell her that sometimes people leave more than once. She recoils in horror and I laugh, but drop the subject.
Earlier I read an article on the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Jim Carrey is quoted and he gets at the heart of something that I've been struggling with for what seems like an eternity. When we see celebrities who appear to 'have it all', he replies that this is in fact, the real problem. You realize that nothing can fill the void inside. Not money, fame, fortune, success, new experiences, denial, pain, sacrifice, I wore Kate Spade eyeglasses and carried several of her signature bags. The other day I saw an unmarked one at the thrift store for $4.99. I'm sure some would argue that it was a knockoff, and perhaps it was, but there was no denying that it was well done if it was. The studs on the bottom, the heft of the handles, the way the outer fabric constrasted cheekily with the inside, it was classic Kate to me. I will miss her quality and love for the whimsical that she paired with the geometrical. No matter how bad my life feels some day, and my own issues with religion aside, I'm glad I went to church with the girls today.
P.S. Maybe this Real Simple article on home offices will be fun. I'm so easily distracted. Ever notice how hard simplicity can be?