(from earlier this week: i had to type up some "blog notes" i'd scrawled at new amsterdam)
my junior year in high school j. and i planned a spring break trip, unaware that ours was a dying friendship. her dad selected us a beachhouse to rent and we packed up her car with swimsuits, suntan oil (screw sunscreen!), shorts, tank tops, our cameras and film, snacks, etc. all nestled in makeshift suitcases and drove down through waco austin san antonio to some coastal tourist town. the house was a block from the beach.
j. and i settled into the place (which was waaaay too big for just the two of us -- three bedrooms all done up in seashells and muted pastel business), threw our swimsuits on and drove down to the beach. we cruised, watching the college kids with their bud lights and pop music blaring from speakers in jeeps.
clouds thundered in from the north, followed by gusts of wind.
the clouds blew past us. the wind tarried for the duration of our stay, rendering the beach un-inhabitable.
we could barely make it from the car up to the house door and vice versa -- sand coated our ears, it made us blink out our contacts and wear our unbearably ugly glasses the whole time.
we found no beer, no hot guys. we had no sun, couldn't even sit out on the deck. so we sat encased in the horrifically decorated space, recycling our old coversations about our fathers and our love lives and etc etc. i remember staring at some framed ocean-mural thing, the once-living carcasses of sea creatures mounted in a swirl of dyed sand, feeling guilty for smoking the camel lights in my backpack.
listless, searching for some night life, we ventured into town at night. all we found was a sad pizza parlor w/ a fat italian guy who gave us free tokens for the video games.
and we bickered. and i smoked. and we slept, and j. took pictures in the clausterphobic space that was too large for just us two and the television had no off button -- and no reception. it was just a continous grey fuzz that scared the shit out of us. we finally unplugged it.
i remember sleeping in the same bed in the "master" bedroom, both of us terrified b/c we hadn't really checked the closet. we'd gone through the whole place initially except this closet -- what if there was something bad in there? dead body, bad guy, etc.
we never opened that door.
it took us a full two days to even turn off the poltergeist tv, we were so frightened and suspicious and ashamed of feeling so.....
and the drive back, getting lost in san antonio while droves of hispanic extras on the selina
set made navigating the town a difficulty, eating at hard rock cafe on the river walk, trying to convince ourselves that we were enjoying our vacation, and miserably drifting back to mansfield.
sighing at the strange relief to be home.
happy to see my boyfriend jacob, who invited me to visit his aunt in oklahoma.
barely convinced mom to let me go. "you've already had one vacation!"
and somehow with the teenage whine and chore-craziness i convinced her. i stuffed shirts and jeans into my backpack, hopped into the suzuki samuria w/ jacob and his sister and we headed north to ardmore.
i had a blast. i didn't really do spring break much, in the eight years of school where that was a possibility. three distinct trips come to mind -- the high trip to big bend, boquillas and such (gotta tell you that one sometime) -- beach trip to galveston, complete with ocean baptisms and walt whitman -- and this oklahoma thing.
we took the samurai out to jacob's aunt's back fields, offroading and bouncing stiffly across their acreage, smiling at cattle, getting stuck and hopping out of the car to tip it over some hill or stretch of ground it got stuck on. we laughed over pizza at local joint in town every day, inhaling coca-cola in red frosted plastic glasses and discussing vanity and ecclesiastes.
arianne and i shared her cousin's old bed, this antique job that was literally perched on a series of tightly-wound springs. it was amazing. she and i would pray every night together, and we shared some intimate secrets as we discussed our lives and our past and god and relationships and marriage and sex and love. i believe that she revealed some things to me that she had never told another soul.
one night, after watching a movie w/ everyone (all snuggled up w/ jacob supine on the couch) folks went to bed. arianne and i decided to play myst
well it didn't make much sense, but her aunt had the cheat book. so she and i stayed up until 6am, solving puzzles and cheating our way through the game, until we won it.
after hours and hours and hours, we'd enjoyed our cheater victory, and settled our tired eyes into the bouncy bed and took turns praying.
"jesus forgive me for ______ _____ ______, she said. and for saying "fuck" earlier."
something something. you know how it goes.
i said some similar things, though somehow at that point i was beyond asking forgiveness for cursing. it was more "i'm sorry i smoked earlier this week"
we descended into slumber, assured of our salvation, eager for a morning of cows and doughnuts and singing in the wanna-be-jeep while bouncing stiffly in the fields, a joyous turquoise machine with its orange stripe and seat covers delivering us safely and happily across the oklahoma landscape....
it was good.
i returned to find a bill from j. and her dad: $200 for roaming charges on her dad's cell phone.
so i'm trying to remember how exactly i prayed
for all my passion and faith it always felt like some odd one-way conversation filled with my selfish pleadings
i often fell asleep in mid-thought -- mid-prayer (?) and felt deluged with guilt the next morning
-- or you'd only half fall asleep and sleeppraydream something like you're walking to your locker to get your books for class and you find yourself saying things like "lord, help me open my locker"....
memories of praying as a child mostly consist of lists of family members. and please bless uncle mike and justin and aunt bill and cousin courtney...
and on and on and on. there's a lot of family.
and then we'd list the friends, and acquaintences, and our preacher and blah blah blah!
i think part of us delighted in this listing. hah, look at all these people i know and love and god loves and they love me back and i can name people for minutes and minutes and minutes!
the listing tended to go so swiftly, and yet there was a brief moment for each, their faces flashing in my young mind, warmth flooding me at the thought of certain particular amazing folks i shared something great with, even at that young age
that flash of warmth, of thought in someone's general direction, a burst of love in a quick moment before switching to (ewwwww) old aunt sis or something....
i can replicate that. i can draw it out, stretching the thought-love-moments' edges like holding triange pose for what should be two excruciating more breaths but leaning into them
even if i can't replicate the faith in the sky king. i'm no longer praying for some huge gendered frightening force to help the ones i love. i'm trying to help them with some odd mixture of care-bear-stare thought love hope
it's possible that this just helps me.
especially when i'm "praying" "meditating" at hiyam or something. shit. type more notes now.
(i "blogged" this on paper at new amsterdam earlier)
in the midst of my strongest faith i never knew how to pray.
my efforts seemed so pale, so ineffective
, so blah
compared to my grandparents' prayers
when we'd spend the night there
(nights on the fold out couch bed, back crinching despite the egg-crate cover over crap-thin-mattress springs and Gran banging pots and pans early before dawn cracked the sky, fixing tomato gravy and scratch biscuits)
(while humming hymns (i assume) off key and i mean off key. she'd sing the same note over and over, but giving it pause and meaning.)
how the fuck can you recognixe "nothing but the blood of jesus" in monotone hum? bzz bzz bzz mm mm mmm
clank pot pan stir clink mmm mm
we all would kneel down to pray in the living room. Papa and Gran at their Lazy Boy recliners, the McCaugheys lined up along the couch, everyone else at the daybed or various other spaces... god, they shook the walls of the doublewide with their prayer. i remember rich being healed of a headache. sometimes the holy ghost would descend upon us and mom would quietly cry and murmur and dad would get excited and stand up, praying out loud (loud
), sometimes bumping his head on the glass that encased the lightbulb danging from the half-hung ceiling fan, his right leg shaking
and i, quiet, trying to concentrate
all this interrupting me mid-thought -- feeling god in the room
and feeling blessed and crying and joy and self-disgust, or failure, or something because it was like a tertiary experience.
i was feeding off their anointing
i just had quiet thoughts, quiet pleas aimed what i considered to be heavenward
and he never fucking talked back,
never infused our "discourse" with anything.
they always said 'god answers prayer'
i wasn't sure if he was just saying "no" or if i was on some sort of waiting list
and yet the emotional experience verified his existence, his involvement with us, me
on some level
later, post xian quasi-agnostic shnn ended up in a her civic with heather. we parked outside the dorm (we'd tromped outside to listen to music in our pjs)
queen's bohemian rhapsody
came on and we sang, gesticulated, we celebrated and oh holy shit, the same cloak of emotion and feeling descended upon us
i remember saying
"this is god"
she said "i feel god"
and we cried.
and cried and sang and i swear there was some attached alternate ending to the song that night on the radio
ask her. seriously.
i've never tracked it down. maybe we mass-hallucinated it.
but the feeling, whatever it was that inhabited those moments -- it was identical to my holy ghost a of g moments. my tent revival, kneeling at altar call in itchy panty hose under too-bright-lights experience....
and so. now. at 24, in october.
i approach a space where some semblance of prayer/meditation is desired.
someone i respect recently told me "pray -- you don't have to believe"
i just want to emit happy positive vibes, to sit and concentrate on hiyam, on dad, on beate and trev, on this goddamn country
to forgive, to help, put something out there
i'm not a chanter. i don't believe in the "i am" sky king.
but i want my malas. i want to count 108 rosewood beads and concentrate on one person, thing, entity, cause...................focus.