applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] tights)
Muster is at 8 AM - any later and valuable moments of fun are lost. The very concept, for my father, is absolutely intolerable. Fun is a requirement of vacation, after all, and we are going to have as much of it as humanly possible. Forget sleeping in (not that we could on the sleeper sofa to which we've been relegated, my sister and I) and hurry it up when it comes to getting dressed and brushing your teeth - come on, come on, we're on a strict schedule! Every moment of the day is planned down to the most minute detail - where we'll go, what we'll see, where we'll eat, the photo opportunities we'll experience. Forget leisure, forget lazy days on the beach. There's so much to see!

The truth is, my dad never wanted to go to Hawaii. It was my sister's idea, legitimized by her high school graduation and hours of finely crafted pleading. She gained my mom's support first, and eventually, my mom managed to get my dad on board. Still, it was a grudging acceptance of a terrifying fact - he'd be stuck with us, three women, in an environment that wasn't of his choosing (examples of environments of his choosing: sweltering campgrounds in the dead of summer, train museums, and tightly winding dirt "roads" specially designed to make my motion-sickness-prone sister vomit). The only way to survive it was to make it fit with his preconceived notions of what vacations should be, and the best way to do that was to plan it down to the nanosecond.

And day after day, we do it all. Sightseeing, sports, natural wonders - nothing escapes our notice. There's still the rain to contend with, of course, and the perpetual complaints of one or several members of the party, but no one could say we aren't thorough. We take the Road to Hana, snorkel at Molokini Crater, visit the aquarium, windsurf, shop, take photos of waterfalls and mist-clung mountains, and even rent an enormous Harley on which to tour the narrow winding roads that drop off dizzyingly to a surging sea. And though I long to lie on a sun-drenched beach and read, dabbling my toes in the swirling surf, the memories build despite my cynicism, building a wild world of green and blue and gold. Even now I can perfectly recall the vision of a humpback whale breaching the waves, soaring and crashing in a white spray of water.

So while I hate to admit I'm wrong, and despite the fact that my own vacation schedules are always fast and loose and haphazard, a long exposure of blurry lights and indistinct, rushing figures, I can sort of see the point of schedules, itineraries, and marching orders. Sorting the memories into perfect snapshot moments, glossy and clear, available for nostalgia and escape at any given moment... yeah, I guess I can see the point. Don't tell him I said it, but I guess Dad does know a few things after all.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] tights)
Muster is at 8 AM - any later and valuable moments of fun are lost. The very concept, for my father, is absolutely intolerable. Fun is a requirement of vacation, after all, and we are going to have as much of it as humanly possible. Forget sleeping in (not that we could on the sleeper sofa to which we've been relegated, my sister and I) and hurry it up when it comes to getting dressed and brushing your teeth - come on, come on, we're on a strict schedule! Every moment of the day is planned down to the most minute detail - where we'll go, what we'll see, where we'll eat, the photo opportunities we'll experience. Forget leisure, forget lazy days on the beach. There's so much to see!

The truth is, my dad never wanted to go to Hawaii. It was my sister's idea, legitimized by her high school graduation and hours of finely crafted pleading. She gained my mom's support first, and eventually, my mom managed to get my dad on board. Still, it was a grudging acceptance of a terrifying fact - he'd be stuck with us, three women, in an environment that wasn't of his choosing (examples of environments of his choosing: sweltering campgrounds in the dead of summer, train museums, and tightly winding dirt "roads" specially designed to make my motion-sickness-prone sister vomit). The only way to survive it was to make it fit with his preconceived notions of what vacations should be, and the best way to do that was to plan it down to the nanosecond.

And day after day, we do it all. Sightseeing, sports, natural wonders - nothing escapes our notice. There's still the rain to contend with, of course, and the perpetual complaints of one or several members of the party, but no one could say we aren't thorough. We take the Road to Hana, snorkel at Molokini Crater, visit the aquarium, windsurf, shop, take photos of waterfalls and mist-clung mountains, and even rent an enormous Harley on which to tour the narrow winding roads that drop off dizzyingly to a surging sea. And though I long to lie on a sun-drenched beach and read, dabbling my toes in the swirling surf, the memories build despite my cynicism, building a wild world of green and blue and gold. Even now I can perfectly recall the vision of a humpback whale breaching the waves, soaring and crashing in a white spray of water.

So while I hate to admit I'm wrong, and despite the fact that my own vacation schedules are always fast and loose and haphazard, a long exposure of blurry lights and indistinct, rushing figures, I can sort of see the point of schedules, itineraries, and marching orders. Sorting the memories into perfect snapshot moments, glossy and clear, available for nostalgia and escape at any given moment... yeah, I guess I can see the point. Don't tell him I said it, but I guess Dad does know a few things after all.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] twilight)
All my life, it felt like we occupied neighboring stars rather than neighboring states. I looked like the daughter she had raised, but I haunted hallways like a wraith, craving silence and isolation while others laughed and beat the floorboards with running feet. When I hugged her, the contrast in our skin and clothes brought more distance between us, an invisible, intangible barrier. Her world, to me, was small and meager, dirty and cheap. It made me uncomfortable, and even though I only saw her once a year, I couldn't leave her cramped and leaning house soon enough.

When I was fourteen, after the death of my grandfather, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly our family trips up to Arkansas included visits to a nursing home, a place that I loathed more than I had ever disliked her tiny house. She lay curled under faded sheets, skeletal beneath papery skin still dark from years spent laboring in the sun, her dreamy eyes picking me out from the sun-whitened wall. She didn't know me, of course. I was sure that I had been one of the first to go. There were photographs of me pinned to her wall, but I knew my mother had put them there. I might have been a patch of sky, or a tree in the shape of a girl. She was farther from me than ever now, her eyes picking out worlds beyond worlds, phantoms and dreams. I wanted to reach out and comfort her, bury her frail fingers in my strong, healthy hands, and help her remember. But who was I to her? A strange girl in the corner, nothing more.

The last I remember of her was visiting on a "bad day." She moaned and fought against my mother's embrace, her nightdress - one my mother had given her, painstakingly picked out, lovingly wrapped - flapping and twisted around her matchstick legs. My mother wept on the ride home, quietly, hoping we wouldn't hear. After months of hoping and praying and crying, she knew it was the end. My grandmother died just a few days later.

When my mother went back to the leaning house to pack up my grandmother's possessions, she found a small basket of fruit-shaped soaps in her bathroom, proudly displayed on a rickety shelf. I had given them to her, years before, on the one Christmas I remember spending at her house. I was seven, and bursting with the importance of giving a gift - one I had paid for myself out of my chore money. She hugged me, genuinely touched, though I had forgotten her smile in the intervening years. Cradling those soaps in my hands, I felt her more closely than I ever had in life, as though she were only a breath away. Briefly, softly, our worlds touched for the last time.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] twilight)
All my life, it felt like we occupied neighboring stars rather than neighboring states. I looked like the daughter she had raised, but I haunted hallways like a wraith, craving silence and isolation while others laughed and beat the floorboards with running feet. When I hugged her, the contrast in our skin and clothes brought more distance between us, an invisible, intangible barrier. Her world, to me, was small and meager, dirty and cheap. It made me uncomfortable, and even though I only saw her once a year, I couldn't leave her cramped and leaning house soon enough.

When I was fourteen, after the death of my grandfather, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly our family trips up to Arkansas included visits to a nursing home, a place that I loathed more than I had ever disliked her tiny house. She lay curled under faded sheets, skeletal beneath papery skin still dark from years spent laboring in the sun, her dreamy eyes picking me out from the sun-whitened wall. She didn't know me, of course. I was sure that I had been one of the first to go. There were photographs of me pinned to her wall, but I knew my mother had put them there. I might have been a patch of sky, or a tree in the shape of a girl. She was farther from me than ever now, her eyes picking out worlds beyond worlds, phantoms and dreams. I wanted to reach out and comfort her, bury her frail fingers in my strong, healthy hands, and help her remember. But who was I to her? A strange girl in the corner, nothing more.

The last I remember of her was visiting on a "bad day." She moaned and fought against my mother's embrace, her nightdress - one my mother had given her, painstakingly picked out, lovingly wrapped - flapping and twisted around her matchstick legs. My mother wept on the ride home, quietly, hoping we wouldn't hear. After months of hoping and praying and crying, she knew it was the end. My grandmother died just a few days later.

When my mother went back to the leaning house to pack up my grandmother's possessions, she found a small basket of fruit-shaped soaps in her bathroom, proudly displayed on a rickety shelf. I had given them to her, years before, on the one Christmas I remember spending at her house. I was seven, and bursting with the importance of giving a gift - one I had paid for myself out of my chore money. She hugged me, genuinely touched, though I had forgotten her smile in the intervening years. Cradling those soaps in my hands, I felt her more closely than I ever had in life, as though she were only a breath away. Briefly, softly, our worlds touched for the last time.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] shy)
The time for Easter dresses is long past - since I stopped going to church six years ago, there didn't really seem a point. So instead of a frothy little frock in springtime pastels, I slide into spangled black tights, a just-enough-above-the-knee-to-raise-an-eyebrow-or-two red silk skirt, and a snug black cardigan. The choice of colors seems a rebellion against the entire concept of Easter service, but truthfully I just look better in dark shades. Anyway, as I've already been convicted of godless heathenry in the court of public opinion, I might as well look the part.

My parents have, for the most part, taken my withdrawal from the church admirably. In the early days there was the expected gnashing of teeth and well-intentioned guilt tripping, but after a few years of that didn't send me running back to long denim skirts and long, split-ended hair, they gave up and started down the slow road to acceptance. Still, there are certain things on which they just won't budge - Christmas, Easter, and Mother's Day services among them. So here I am, 8 AM on a beautiful Sunday morning, thinking longingly of my bed as I begin the drive out to the 'burbs.

Pulling up under the cheerful marquee marking the First Pentecostal Church ("Come join our church family!") brings on a kaleidoscopic whirl of memories, marking everything from my status as church celebrity to my secret decline into "worldly ways." I remember captaining the Bible Quiz team the year we won first place at the state competition; the way the congregation stretched out their hands in blessing to us as we quoted Bible verses from the pulpit. I remember pulling my non-parental-approved boyfriend into an empty Sunday School classroom and kissing him heatedly as the sound of hymns rose around us, my body tight with desire and fear. I remember storming out of yet another classroom, weeping furiously at judgment laid down upon me by my teachers, all because I chose to cut my hair.

My mother is waiting for me in her usual pew, near the back of the sanctuary on the right-hand side. My father, an usher, will be in the foyer, directing latecomers to empty seats. Women flit from pew to pew, unwilling to sit and wrinkle their new linen suits, the feathers on their elaborate hats swaying in time with their stride. The youth group has a reserved section at the front - here and there I spot a surly-faced sloucher determinedly ignoring the brightly-colored bustle of the room.

My entrance is marked. It's been long enough that many of the faces here are unrecognizable to me, but the old mainstays make a beeline in my direction. Some I'm pleased to see - my old Bible Quiz coaches with their adorable sons (chubby-cheeked cherubs with perfect blond ringlets), a few friends from my own youth group days, and even the pastor, an energetic man of 5'3" who always greets me with a compliment and an enormous smile. Others, unfortunately, I'm not so pleased about. The Sunday School teachers who told me that cutting my hair was unfaithful to Christ, smiling guiltily. The gossips who spread rumors about me in my absence, all dutifully reported to me by my younger sister. These are here to get an eyeful of my latest getup, to greet with a smile and turn away with a laugh.

As the tide of people ebbs away, leaving me in relieved peace, my mother beams in my direction. Isn't it nice, her smile says, how much everyone loves you here? Wouldn't you like to come back?

It is a trap laid with with tenderest hand and the best of intentions - the trap of love and friendship and acceptance. It would be easy to fall back into this life. The church would happily forgive me for all of my sins, and I could easily find a place among them once more. I could probably even marry a preacher - always my mother's deepest desire for me. My place in Heaven would be assured (at least in my parents' eyes) and everyone could rest easily knowing that I was in compliance with God's plan.

But I turn away at the last moment, my feet missing the trap by inches. This world isn't mine anymore. I would never belong. I would be an instigator, a rebel, a thorn in the side. I don't believe. I can't believe. And so after these two hours have passed, after I have stood for the hymns and the word, after I have smiled and hugged and said goodbye, I will return to my apartment, my jeans, my Sunday afternoon. I will return to my real life.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] shy)
The time for Easter dresses is long past - since I stopped going to church six years ago, there didn't really seem a point. So instead of a frothy little frock in springtime pastels, I slide into spangled black tights, a just-enough-above-the-knee-to-raise-an-eyebrow-or-two red silk skirt, and a snug black cardigan. The choice of colors seems a rebellion against the entire concept of Easter service, but truthfully I just look better in dark shades. Anyway, as I've already been convicted of godless heathenry in the court of public opinion, I might as well look the part.

My parents have, for the most part, taken my withdrawal from the church admirably. In the early days there was the expected gnashing of teeth and well-intentioned guilt tripping, but after a few years of that didn't send me running back to long denim skirts and long, split-ended hair, they gave up and started down the slow road to acceptance. Still, there are certain things on which they just won't budge - Christmas, Easter, and Mother's Day services among them. So here I am, 8 AM on a beautiful Sunday morning, thinking longingly of my bed as I begin the drive out to the 'burbs.

Pulling up under the cheerful marquee marking the First Pentecostal Church ("Come join our church family!") brings on a kaleidoscopic whirl of memories, marking everything from my status as church celebrity to my secret decline into "worldly ways." I remember captaining the Bible Quiz team the year we won first place at the state competition; the way the congregation stretched out their hands in blessing to us as we quoted Bible verses from the pulpit. I remember pulling my non-parental-approved boyfriend into an empty Sunday School classroom and kissing him heatedly as the sound of hymns rose around us, my body tight with desire and fear. I remember storming out of yet another classroom, weeping furiously at judgment laid down upon me by my teachers, all because I chose to cut my hair.

My mother is waiting for me in her usual pew, near the back of the sanctuary on the right-hand side. My father, an usher, will be in the foyer, directing latecomers to empty seats. Women flit from pew to pew, unwilling to sit and wrinkle their new linen suits, the feathers on their elaborate hats swaying in time with their stride. The youth group has a reserved section at the front - here and there I spot a surly-faced sloucher determinedly ignoring the brightly-colored bustle of the room.

My entrance is marked. It's been long enough that many of the faces here are unrecognizable to me, but the old mainstays make a beeline in my direction. Some I'm pleased to see - my old Bible Quiz coaches with their adorable sons (chubby-cheeked cherubs with perfect blond ringlets), a few friends from my own youth group days, and even the pastor, an energetic man of 5'3" who always greets me with a compliment and an enormous smile. Others, unfortunately, I'm not so pleased about. The Sunday School teachers who told me that cutting my hair was unfaithful to Christ, smiling guiltily. The gossips who spread rumors about me in my absence, all dutifully reported to me by my younger sister. These are here to get an eyeful of my latest getup, to greet with a smile and turn away with a laugh.

As the tide of people ebbs away, leaving me in relieved peace, my mother beams in my direction. Isn't it nice, her smile says, how much everyone loves you here? Wouldn't you like to come back?

It is a trap laid with with tenderest hand and the best of intentions - the trap of love and friendship and acceptance. It would be easy to fall back into this life. The church would happily forgive me for all of my sins, and I could easily find a place among them once more. I could probably even marry a preacher - always my mother's deepest desire for me. My place in Heaven would be assured (at least in my parents' eyes) and everyone could rest easily knowing that I was in compliance with God's plan.

But I turn away at the last moment, my feet missing the trap by inches. This world isn't mine anymore. I would never belong. I would be an instigator, a rebel, a thorn in the side. I don't believe. I can't believe. And so after these two hours have passed, after I have stood for the hymns and the word, after I have smiled and hugged and said goodbye, I will return to my apartment, my jeans, my Sunday afternoon. I will return to my real life.

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