I've spent most of the day today reading, writing, pensando. Trying to sell some of my 400 + books on Amazon and keep finding ones to keep... yesterday grabbed Don't Know Much About Geography and started it, but didn't pick it back up today. I rescued this book from my Grandparent's house after my Grandmother died and they finally sent Granddaddy to a Home when it became clear his Alzheimer's was worse than thought. I imagine someone gave it to them as a gift, since they never showed much interest in the world beyond southwestern Virginia... or even, really, beyond their house.
By the time we got there, my mother's brothers and sister and various cousins and other unknown relations and friends had descended upon their house with markers and pieces of paper and bags and pickup trucks and had either carried away or claimed practically everything in the house. We wandered through the cluttered mess of junk no one wanted like we were at the Goodwill. I felt like I was going to throw up. In the end, I took the geography book, some sheets and pillowcases that I never used, and some cookware that I use a lot. The piano --which I used to play and compose on as a little girl and had always hoped someday to be able to have-- had already been claimed by my cousin, although she didn't play. I accepted this, nauseated further by the thought of squabbling over the stuff of my Grandparents' strange, frightened, sheltered lives.
Today is Sunday and so it didn't seem right to read the geography book, especially as I wasn't going to church anyway and that was bad enough. Instead, after journalling about why I wasn't going to church, I picked up The Cloud of Unknowing, again, and read it, sitting in the sun in my bedroom, occasionally joined by my orange tabby kitty with the bunny-soft fur. The sun was really hot despite it being 24 degrees outside... too hot for the cat and eventually too hot for me. I went to the living room and tried to concentrate solely on God as the writer of Cloud admonished. I started on God and ended on whether to cook the chicken in the fridge for lunch. I decided I'd have better luck with Anne Lamott than the Anonymous Black-Plague-Era author of Cloud (I have to wonder what, or whether, he worried about all the folks dying of Plague while he admonished others to put even thoughts of God's goodness out of their minds for fear of distracting them from God Himself), and headed out into the frigid air to grab Travelling Mercies from the Central Library.
After meeting up with C. for some chat about whether gender is ontological or a social construct based on biological difference (lol I'm sure it didn't sound that hoity-toity when we were talking... eh, maybe it did and hence the rapid rotation of lone diners at the table next to us), as well as the usual fretting about jobs and DC and singleness and stuff, I had a lot more luck with good ol' Annie. I eat her books whole. Probably a good 8 months before it ended with G, when he headed off to Mexico for a little down time without me, I went to Kramerbooks, bought Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and read the whole thing in the next 5 hours: drinking tea, walking to the Dupont Station, on the Metro, walking home, on the couch, in the bathroom, in the kitchen pouring myself a glass of water. When I finished it, I felt more alive than I had in months and I knew it would end with G at some point... just wasn't sure when. At no point had I felt that good, that myself, when I was with him, so clearly he wasn't The One.
I'd never read anything by Annie at that point but I remember feeling like I used to feel when I was a little kid and wouldn't even make it past the park next to the library without being devoured by one of the books I checked out and collapsing in whatever old grassy spot, completely lost in that world. Reading her tonight, I slid through 60 pages without, it seemed, breathing. I read a page in what seemed only 2-3 seconds and then went back and re-read it, figuring I'd missed something. I hadn't. Her writing is easy for my brain to read... the words travel along long-forgotten, once well-paved pathways that have begun to grow over. When I read her, it's like the person I once was, the person I once protected to some degree, takes a long drink of her words and says God, I was so thirsty.
I've got to learn to be brave and to defend that person inside, to accept her, and cherish her, and encourage her to stop hiding and stop being ashamed and afraid. Inside is a person I have forgotten to be, and I've decided to go in and find her, and bring her out into the light, even if that means that no man loves me again, ever. I'm calling this blog Without A Map because that's how my brother and I entered our adulthood. Now, 14 years later, it's no surprise I've gotten lost as I followed this or that or the other exotic, interesting man or ethereal theology or idea or charismatic, confident friend, thinking that each of these would point me in the right direction. None of it has really worked all that well and I'm alien even to myself now. However, I know the terrain better, and some of my particular weaknesses, and so begin a long journey back to the road, beaten up a little, but hopefully a little more grounded.
Happy to have you along.