August 14th, 2010
I wrote this as part of an assignment in a writing class. I’ll not bore you with the details of the assignment, except to say that this is not a polished piece of writing. It is “stream of consciousness” as it were, with run-on sentences and all. Sometimes the essence of something is lost when you try to clean it up too much. And the essence of this, it seems to me, might be worth tripping over a few clods of dirt.
Yesterday at mass, the priest was telling a story about Jesus. Well, that’s a big surprise, huh? Anyway… I was busy trying to get my kid to settle down and stop talking and stop drawing on the pew cushion, telling her to wait to talk to the priest until mass is over (she always wants to talk to the priest in the middle of the homily, raising her hand, calling his name, like some teacher’s pet in Freshman English.) I was trying hard not to swear, as I tend to do under my breath when frustrated with my kid, but you know, front row at the family mass… not a good place to be saying things like “Goddamn it Esther, please be quiet I’m trying to hear the homily” or “Jesus Christ Esther, can’t you see we’re praying?” Wafting in and out of my ears I hear a few of the words of Father Kurt (our resident Hippy Priest complete with Birkenstock’s and ponytail) about how Jesus wants us to be totally ourselves, full of life, joyful etc., and that Jesus cares so much about this he’ll pursue us into the depths of hell (if that’s where we are) and even hang a while to convince us to step away from the dark side (Ya. Darth Vader references and all) although he won’t hang forever because you have to actually want to leave hell yourself. You can’t be taken without permission. You have to want to get out to actually get out. Anyway. He kind of lingers on that notion for a minute and I’m thinking about donuts, wondering when I can go outside and get one and, most importantly, find my husband to take Esther for a minute so I can eat my donut in peace.
Then my daughter tugs at me, waking me from my donut dreams, and says “Ya, Mama. I don’t want to be there.”
“Where?” I said.
“Where the priest said. In that place.”
“In hell?” I whispered, incredulous that she was actually cognizant of the subject matter.
“Ya” she says. “I don’t want to go there. I just want to be my regular self.”
I just want to be my regular self. I just want to be my regular self. Jesus. This gem of wisdom from my five-year-old. I squeezed her so tight she whacked me. Right on the cheekbone.
That’s all I want too. I just want to be my regular self. I have been wanting to be my regular self now for about 45 years… and that, my friends, is long enough to forget who your regular self is.
I think I’m in that place my daughter doesn’t want to go. Have I really been here that long? Oh my god. I have no idea how to be my regular self.