We Were Never Going To Win

I’ve been dabbling away at some different writing projects. The following is a fragment from a pseudo memoir that isn’t taking shape in the way I thought. It came to my mind, though, because Anglicans around the world are thinking about Leaving Home, as we did, and might be wondering what it feels like. This is alternately called in my mind, “What Will We Take With Us?”

Emma danced and twirled in a princess dress, one of those awful Target Disney items that tear easily but can never perish. She paused and then twirled her little sister. The boys were wearing Spiderman Costumes. I had just walked in and plunked my fat purse down on some chair piled high with junk that needed to be sorted and put away, somewhere. Except that there wasn’t any somewhere left. For months we’d been flinging stuff we didn’t know what to do with into the basement. Once a dim comfortable bedroom with a proper bed and desk, now a cavern of discarded junk, the basement was a true testament of our belief that we would definitely lose.

In 2003, sitting in a sunlit high brow Starbucks on the San Antonio River Walk, the computer open–one of those old one’s you have to lug around with you looking for an outlet and shoving an internet hot spot card into its various crevices, hitting refresh on Titusonenine over and over and over and over–we saw the depressing, but completely expected, headline that Gene Robinson’s election as bishop of New Hampshire had been ratified by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Clergy, Lay Delegates, Bishops. All the houses had accepted his election. 

We drank another coffee and hit refresh. It was a beautiful day. We were alone. Little Emma was spending the week with her grandparents while we went away by ourselves to the Texas Hill Country. The trip into Starbucks satisfied a brief craving for civilization, and news. We had blown out a tire on the way in and Matt had grease all over his crisp blue shirt from lying on the side of the highway to force on the spare. The coffee was pretty good. We hit refresh again and then went back to the hill country.

And from that moment on we were walking the way to this second moment, where I flung my purse down and plunked into a chair. Matt waved the white fluttering court order letting us know we had to get out of this house and out of this church as soon as we could do it. 

“They can come take the keys if they want,” said Matt, as I read it over. “We’ve lost everything–both buildings, all the money, everything.”

But not everything. We sat watching the children twirl. “There’s plenty of stuff in the basement we won’t be able to convince them to take,” I said, or thought. When you lose ‘everything’ that just means you have to pack, because some of the things have to go with you. 

I fixed the children’s twirling and laughing into the back of my mind’s eye. I’ll take that, I thought. That, I will keep. And I have. Because when you lose everything, it’s just some of the things.

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