I just typed the phrase, “Trying isn’t trying unless you try.”
I’m prematurely Alzheimery.
Currently reading: Elements of Style, as suggested in Stephen King’s On Writing.
That is all.
(This post was published when I first started this blog, before anyone knew it was here. I liked the post, so since I have readers now I decided to polish it and post it again. I also changed names to protect…well, me, from getting in trouble.)
It was never my intention to become someone I wouldn’t like.
Growing up in the ditches of red Mississippi mud, I was taught that happiness was a Sunday morning song, a memorized verse, and a pristine pair of white socks encased in patent leather Mary Janes.
I rode the bus home from school, and I remember the smell. Like pee and mud and the back of sweaty little boy necks. I remember the spongy stickiness of the plastic green seats, and the high backs that I used to write on with pencil erasers. The one family of four or five kids who always sat in the first two seats, and who wiped boogers on the backs of the seats…they left a lingering odor in those seats, so even after they got off the bus within the first ten minutes of the ride, no one sat there. No one wanted to smell the wake or look at the boogers. I sat in a seat about ¾ of the way back, and I didn’t talk to many people. I don’t know why.
The first few years of bus riding, there was a girl, older than me, named Sarah. She had huge hair and lots of makeup and she would write “Turk 182” on the fogged windows on rainy days. I never questioned what she said, what she wore, or why this obviously-in-high-school girl was riding the bus home from school instead of catching a ride with a friend, or even driving herself. I never even spoke to her. Years later, when she showed up at my church on my way out (during my faithless years, when I realized that perhaps the darkly-stained Baptist pews weren’t quite seats on the only passenger train to Heaven), I recognized her. I had wondered about her through the years. She had come into our church on the coattail of her husband, a man who’d made lots of money owning restaurants, taken lots of drugs in the process, and had finally decided to follow Jesus because, you know, that transition makes total sense. He suddenly became a huge spokesman for Jesus around our town and because it’s the thing that Jesus’ spokesmen do, where ever he happened to be, there she was. Sarah would be sitting beside him in the folded-hand smiling Baptist wife position, and I often wondered if the Sarah from the bus – the one who smacked her gum and smeared on frosted pink Bonne Bell gloss – still existed, and if she did, what did she think of Smiling Wife Sarah? Is that who she dreamed of becoming? Was that what those days on the bus were leading to? What steps did she take to reserve this position for herself?
I wonder if she liked who she was then, and then who she became. She couldn’t have liked them both.
Today, thus far, I’ve not even taken a shower.
I’ve spent today curled in a ball in the corner of my in-laws’ couch (now, though, I’ve moved to a chair), propped on pillows and draped in the shirt Josh wore yesterday. I smell like cologne and sleep and the day feels like a toboggan.
I can’t wait for the rest of my life.
An older couple walked into the bookstore, and I asked nicely if I could help them. He said that he’d ordered a book, it had come in, he wanted to pick it up. I found the book and handed it to him while punching in the numbers. As I reached for a bag, he flipped the book over to read the back.
I noticed the title…”SomethingIdon’tremember End Time Delusion”….about the time that he piped up and said toward his wife, “They got it wrong too, Mama. I thought for sure he had it right.”
He went on like this for a bit, then turned toward me.
Oh please, not me. Not me. I do not want to have the THE END IS NEAR conversation with this man.
“Do you know what I’m talking about?”
Um, of course not. You’re talking? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you 2 feet from my face.
I shook my head, then politely handed him his change and prayed to Dear God in Heaven above that he would shut up and move on.
“See here where it says, ‘Will there be a Rapture? Will there be seven years of tribulation?’ THAT’S all from nowhere. Some Pentecostal WOMAN preacher made that up in 1817. I Thessalonians tells us what the REAL church believed, and this is all wrong.”
Well, dearie me and bless my soul. Did you say a WOMAN preacher? How could anyone have taken that seriously? She must’ve been hard to hear, preaching while she wiped behinds and beat rugs and churned butter. And why were they listening anyway, when JESUS’ BEST FRIEND HIMSELF wasn’t born until THIS century and HERE HE IS IN MY BOOKSTORE. I must be doing something right.
Before he left, I fought the urge to ask him for St. Peter’s phone number. No, really, I did. I controlled myself. But BOY, it was hard.
It’s not something I’m good at, or even something I aspire to be good at. I’m of the “I know what I want and I want it now and if you want to buy me a purse while you’re at it I’d take that too” mindset.
I blame my parents. And Friday evenings spent watching TGIF.
In other news, the Silver Bullet, my 2002 Expedition that I have so lovingly jampacked full of everything I’ve come into contact with for the past 5 years, is sick. Please lift her up before the healing powers of Ford.