Fitting and Delicious to Lose Everything
It’s 1988. I’m nine years old. I’m in my parents’ Oldsmobile, sitting with sweating thighs on its maroon velour back seat, lap belt loosely fastened, dead center, laid bare before the panorama of the review mirror. Mick Jaggar is crooning on am radio, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” It’s neither parent driving. It’s my sister. She’s singing along, hair blowing in the breeze created by her rolled-down window, and she casually puffs on a Marlboro Red. I look up and into that rearview mirror and see that her eyes are looking at me and she has a peculiar expression appearing on her face. I don’t know where we’re going and my best guess is that we’re not going anywhere in particular and, even if we are, I am just along for the ride.
We live in a town with only four hundred houses and my sister will graduate in a couple of years with less than a couple of dozen other seniors. Two months later our world will be upended when our parents decide to move from our small town to the eighth-largest city in the U.S. My sister will have the choice of whether to stay or go. I’ll be packed into the backseat of a different car, surrounded by everything I had accumulated in my short little life.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. - Isaiah 43
The irony is as I look back on my life, the backseat of that car, barreling down country roads, blaring classic rock music, and being driven by an inexperienced and careless driver, was one of the last places I felt completely safe. And at the same time, the tumult of leaving home, at least the home of my young childhood to come to a city, full of opportunity and anguish, leaving has made me who I am. The best thing that ever happened to me was coming to a land I had no idea God was calling me to serve.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” - Gen. 12
But the life that began with relative safety and surrounded by nature, living in the middle of 100 acres, continued on in the presence of gangs and drugs and a million strangers that felt like potential threats.
This series is part of Lenten practice and most will remain unfinished. I may or may not pick up the stories or themes for later posts.