Saturday, May 9, 2009
New Brunswick County, North Carolina
Tonight's A Prairie Home Companion is in Durham, North Carolina. Last summer, Keith and I took a trip back to my home in North Carolina. We re-remembered to pray before meals when with family. We touched the sand on the Atlantic coast. We ate barbecue with vinegar and Keith learned the default way to make tea is with sugar.
Summer's almost here again. I have two more classes to meet. The happy Snoopy dance has begun inside. I've graded all my papers. I've basically just got to attend graduation next Saturday and then empty out my brain from run-on sentences, improbable plots, poor dialogue punctuation, and my favorite "WhatcanIdotogetanAeventhoughIknowInevercametoclass?" question. I've also got to empty out from the sincere work and authenticity and beauty my students have given me. I love them, but I have to separate from them to hear myself again.
There's a light smell of honeysuckle in Prescott. There's a full moon tonight and there's the possibility of sitting outside on the porch and enjoying a glass of wine without mosquitoes and sand fleas. But still.
I tell Keith -- we can just go up to Flagstaff and turn right on I-40. We'll be home. Home. Home. Just go 90 miles north and turn right. How easy is that.
I've just about accepted that I'm stuck in a longing for North Carolina, no matter how many yoga trainings I take, no matter how many qi gong trainings I take, no matter how much I work with detachment, I find I'm programmed for gospel music, azaleas, and oaks. I find I'm programmed for a religion I don't believe in. The other week Keith and I were browsing books and I found 23 Minutes in Hell: One Man's Journey and I was freaked out for days. No amount of education can seem to erase that basic fear that religion brings up in me. What if they're right? What if? Better get saved just in case. No amount of critical thinking and rational thought and downright disgust with religion can erase those very first years that have conditioned me, apparently for the rest of my life, to long for that Sweet By and By that I know isn't there -- though God and Jesus know I want to believe it is.
Just like home. I want to go to Flagstaff and head east. I want to go home, even as I know, with all my rational thoughts, my critical thinking, my years of education and therapy, that home is not what I will find. My dad won't be there drinking sweet tea. Our neighbors won't have not built the fence between our houses because we sold our home to a black couple. My best friend Donna and I won't still be playing kickball in her front yard before her house caught fire. I won't still be believing body, mind, and spirit that it's as simple as saying "yes, Jesus, yes, I believe."
I don't believe. And I don't believe that heading east for three days will bring me back my family.
But dear Jesus, the longing for it sure feels sweet.