Tuesday, June 07, 2011

the sweet myth of simplicity

I’ve always been a fan of fresh starts (or as my friend Devoya said, “Oprah is the angel on one of my shoulders. But I don’t know what is on the other”). Over the past two months, I’ve named dozens of Points At Which I’ll Feel Better: adoption info session, last doctor visit for a while, Easter, Memorial Day, whatever. Oddly enough, I have not been resurrected. The feeling of wanting to run screaming from my own body has hovered like my own personal raincloud.

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.”


Raardvarks said...

19 Kids is also my guilty pleasure. They seem nice, until I realize that I find most of their values repugnant (oh, the irony).

Glad you're feeling better!

Peter Varvel said...

I like to focus on/remember certain old-timey words and their original meanings, such as "retreat" (in the battle context, pacifist though I may be).
While at home, I also like to remember the word "sanctuary," even in its non-religious form.

Cheryl said...

Right? It all seems like innocent fun until one of those little boys grows up to be gay.

Cheryl said...

PV: Yes, I am in retreat!

Claire said...

Ah simplicity... it's presence may be fleeting but it's worth soaking in even if it's just a moment of distraction.

"last doctor visit for a while" -now that is one to celebrate.

As for "The feeling of wanting to run screaming from my own body," I get that, although in my case I keep feeling like my warranty ran out last year. I still don't know what to make of it.

Cheryl said...

Claire, I'm wishing you an extended warranty and mucho peace of mind.