Deep down knew it wouldn’t go away until I got out of town. If this were Eat, Pray, Love, I’d be rejuvenating over focaccia and cappuccinos in Italy. Instead, I had lunch at El Torito in Fresno. But the effect is wonderfully similar. As soon as I hit the 5 this morning, I could feel a weight lift from my shoulders. I’m pretty sure it will settle back in as soon as I get over the Grapevine on my way home, but if I’ve learned anything in the past months, it’s to take the good moments where I can get ‘em.
Watching the flowers on the 99’s meridian roll by in a pink blur, listening to the comedy station on my rental car’s XM radio, walking the wide empty streets, checking my email poolside at La Quinta Inn—it was all so simple and wonderful and easy to lose myself in.
As per usual, I gobbled up my hotel’s cable offerings and sneaked in a quick 19 Kids and Counting before my meeting. Today the Duggar girls were volunteering at the fire house, so they sewed their paramedic uniform pants into skirts. The oldest son’s wife talked about being ready to be blessed with a second baby. Everyone made gentle little jokes at no one’s expense. I thought about how genuinely nice it must be to have all the rules laid out for you: This is what Jesus wants you to wear. This is who Jesus wants you to marry. This is what your job will be.
I read somewhere that Michelle Duggar became a baby-making machine after having a miscarriage early in her marriage. She believed God was punishing her for using birth control.
All the things that would be expected of me if I were a fundamentalist Christian would make me miserable. In Michelle’s world, God would make me loveless and childless. Even the alleged simplicities of Fresno would reveal themselves to be stifling and/or plenty complex if I stood on Tulare Avenue long enough. No one is spared in real life. Nevertheless, I sort of get Michelle’s radical move. When life sends you a lightning bolt of a reminder that you’re not in control, a part of you wants to say, “Okay, fine, you drive.”