Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Is it just the greener grass?

Hey there.

I won't ever retire this blog completely because I need a place to write some thoughts sometimes. At least most of the readers are probably long gone, so I can regain that sense of anonymity that I once had. Well, except for my big 'ol picture over there.

So here's what's weird: I actually miss several things about living up north. Most of all, and I really didn't expect this, I miss our church. And totally shockingly, J does too. He of the nonstop critique. He of the rant all the way home every week. He of the "I don't feel welcome here b/c I'm not liberal enough." Yes. Him. He actually wishes we were still going to St. Gregory's. And so do I.

I guess it's like you spend a year at this place that's so experimental and while there are flaws and annoyances, at least it's very alive and pretty much everybody's really happy to be there and enthusiastic to participate. And then you come back to these churches that are...well, there is no other word for it: they are boring. I mean, I didn't think they were, until I got sucked into St. G's culture. Now I can't deal with mumbled half-hearted liturgical prayers, or priests who are practically yawning while breaking the bread, or parishioners with eyes glazed over. My butt hurts when I'm in church here. There's far too much sitting. I miss dancing. Hell, I miss just standing up. And I mean, you do stand, in our services, in the regular TEC services...but still, not enough. And there's no color, and no costumes, and no life. I mean, there's life. Sure, I never would have gotten into it if there weren't. But even though St. G's drove me up the wall in so many ways, I was also drawn so strongly into the style and the culture that now I feel like a fish out of water. I can't abide "normal" church. Not any kind, not Evangelical or Episcopalian. I've tried regular ol' prayer book services, super high-church anglo-catholic liturgy, and alternative pseudo-Evvie church (i.e. one guy singing/talking for the vast majority of the time while our butts get sore). None of it is fitting anymore.

Man, I almost feel like I did when I was ready to abandon the church altogether, right before we transitioned into TEC. So much of loving your church, it turns out, isn't about the liturgy and the worship at all (despite my best efforts to nail down the magic that makes it work). It's the people. Of course. It's all about the freaking people.

And I loved my people up north. I didn't realize it until now. I was so anxious to get back home to LA that I didn't notice a new home was taking up residence in my heart. But it's not just them, either; it's also the people who made the church down here my home. So many of them are gone, moved on, retiring, or just too busy. It's not the same place anymore. Not much has changed on the outside (actually that's not true - a new building project has completely changed the outside, but I mean the worship), but the soul has shifted somehow.

And it's not just going to church. It's the Food Pantry. I miss it like there's a hole in my gut. That was really my church, you know. When the Sunday folks drove me nuts I knew I had a congregation to go to on Friday that would embrace me. And vice versa. It's just depressing to work at the food distribution here. It's so paltry, and so disorganized. Yeah, it's probably a lot like the FP was when it started. But I'm not Sara Miles, and I don't think I have the heart, conviction, or frankly time (her baby was a lot older than mine when she started) to make the lightning strike down here. It was such a grounding thing for me, such an incredible high (I realize that's a weird paradoxical observation). Plus I really miss the food, in all honesty. I miss being fed - in all ways - by that place.

And I had veteran mama mentors up there. Down here, my friends are all figuring it out with me or I'm the supposed vet. I mean, there's one great friend who's got a two year old, but even that, it's too close to my own predicaments. I had these women up there: the one who showed me how to be a godly parent, the one who helped me brush stuff off and let me vent when I couldn't, even the one who guided me through the world of eco-parenting. I had people to ask about extended breastfeeding; about why I can't get pregnant again; about the phases Maggie goes through. And I feel like I have none of that anymore. I've lost them. I miss them. I need them.

It's especially hard because I want to be pregnant again so badly, and it's not happening, and it seems like all my friends here are preggo again without even trying (or they don't want to be at all, which is also unrelatable).

I even miss my house. I really miss its size. Especially the kitchen. And the two bedrooms. Through which you could actually walk. Currently my one bedroom is so full with a queen bed and a crib that you have to crawl across the bed to get from one side to the other. That's depressing. This house is cute and cozy and so damn stuffed that it will never feel like a grown-up house. It's more like living in a storage space.

And I'll admit it: I really, really miss the weather. Probably the smoke currently burning my eyes isn't helping, nor the week of 100+ temps.

So am I just a big baby who can never be happy with what she has? Am I doomed to always realizing what I had just a little too late?

Don't answer those, please.

Damn. Who would've thought we'd miss St. G's so much? And have so much trouble finding a place to fit in here, HERE in our home!? How can it be so hard? We are different people now, it's true: we are parents. The things we could do before we can't now; I'm sure our friends think we've become aliens. Or reverse vampires who are only really awake when the sun first comes up. I hate it that I can't stay awake past 9. But I wake up at 5. So I can't. I hate it that I can't go out for dinner at 7 pm, but that's my daughter's bedtime. I hate missing movies, and parties, and all manner of outings, because I have a baby and mostly because I'm so damn poor.

Oh. That's really what I miss.

I don't know why, because we didn't have more money up there. But somehow it was more secure. There was more in the savings. And our groceries were taken care of by the church. And there just seems to have been more free stuff to do. I had a cadre of other poor moms willing to run around with me doing free things. And FUN outings, not just sitting around houses. I am so grateful to have friends here with babies, but they are all so much more well off than us. They have houses, pools, cars with air conditioning. I feel like a stupid kid who doesn't have her act together. Maybe I'd be better off getting to know some of the parents at Fuller; at least they would be poor too. It really is very hard to be in such a different tax bracket than your friends. It makes you feel like an idiot a lot of the time. What is wrong with us? We have as much or more education than all of them! But apparently education can't ensure jack squat when it comes to income and employment. In fact, it kind of screws you, since you wind up with student loans that cost more than a house.

Anyway, I just needed to get some of these thoughts out. I needed to say out loud (?) how much I actually miss my church. And my pantry. And my friends. And my house. And maybe the whole area. I want to visit so much. But there's no way I can drive up there without a/c, and there's no way I can rent a car. So I'm stuck. Bum MER.

Well the child's awake so my musings will have to go back into my head now. At least I got a little out. Was starting to feel like I might explode.


rbarenblat said...

I didn't realize you'd moved back to LA, though it makes sense now that you say it.

I think the shift into parenting changes a lot of things, or it can -- especially when you and your friends aren't in the same place, metaphysically or emotionally speaking. This is something I think about a lot. (Last week of my second trimester now...)

And what you say about church feeling boring now -- I've had similar feelings. After my first retreat at Elat Chayyim, the Jewish Renewal retreat center that I love so much, I struggled with the question of how to find meaning in more sedate, less creative liturgical / communal spaces.

Unknown said...

you're missed! You, J and the little Maggie kins. Was just blocks away from you two nights ago and bummed that I couldn't pop by now that i actually had time and a life.

Perhaps...there will be another time here. That's my hope.