Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Gird Up My Loins
My first semester of college I took a course called "The Human Situation." Basically, it was a world literature/philosophy course, or something like that. We read Nietzsche, Primo Levi, other stuff I didn't care about at the time, and the book of Job from the Bible. When I saw it on the syllabus, at first I was offended. I'd never seen the Bible as literature. I mean, I had just come out, but I still hadn't realized I wasn't Christian. I thought I was supposed to be upset that we were reading it as a story and not the word of God.
If you haven't read Job, or you don't know the story, it's pretty simple. Satan and God have a bet: Satan says if God fucks with someone enough, he'll turn on God. God picks Job, saying that he's, like, the best follower of all time ever. Satan kills his kids, burns his sheep, blows his house apart and does something to his oxen and camel and she-asses. Through it all, even his friends telling him that he must've done something wrong to piss off God, Job is faithful. In the end, God gives Job a lot more kids, sheep, oxen, all that.
* * *
Tonight Mindy put our cat, Sinatra "Snot" to sleep. I didn't watch like I did with Lady. We'd already had that discussion. You see, Lady and Snot were the same age, around 17, and they'd been together their whole lives. I had to put Lady to sleep just days after Mindy went into the hospital; it was less than 2 months ago. Like Lady, Snot just started walking funny and sitting very still. She declined in a few days. Mindy brought home an i.v. pump from work and she was getting fluids for three days. She didn't get better.
So, Mindy brought home the juice. I cried over Snot and left the room. I sat on the porch, the breeze blowing my tears and I read, for the first time since I was 18, the Bible.
* * *
I've mentioned many times that I'm not Christian. That is, I don't believe in God and I don't believe Jesus was the son of God. I don't believe that Mary was a virgin. However, I do believe Jesus was a guy, probably a super cool BLACK man.
People have said to me, since March 4, that you know, "God tests our faith sometimes." I try not to be sarcastic when I respond, but I can't help it. I don't believe that someone or thing is in charge, up there pulling my strings. If there was, he'd be a real dick.
You might wonder what I do believe in. I believe in love and kindness or at least, leaving people the hell alone to do what they want. I believe faith is not worth warring over. No one is right.
So, once again, we have offered up a life for a life. So far, the universe has required two beloved pets in exchange for our son. Our family has been destroyed, but it will be rebuilt. For those of you who kept saying that having a baby would change our lives forever, boy, do you feel silly.
* * *
I told Mindy tonight, while we inhaled our margaritas over dinner, that I suddenly felt old today. She said I was probably old when I was eight. It's true. It's like there's this feeling in my body. Did you ever stand in the doorways, pressing your hands to the frame, then step forward? It's like, all that pressure, and then suddenly, your arms are weightless and floating. Towards the heavens.
* * *
When I did believe in God, I couldn't imagine him being mean. I still can't wrap my mind around why people would believe he'd actually make this wager with Satan, to see if the most righteous servant could handle the boils and terrors. I get it, though. The writers of the Bible were fond of hyperbole. Job was probably a real guy. He probably had some bad shit happen. His friends probably told him that he must've deserved it (why else would horrible things happen to good people?). In the end, he was probably, like, "Can you fuckin believe it?"
* * *
I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I've lost weight and then gained more back. I've slept in and not slept. I've drunk too much and sometimes nothing. I have cried and I've stared into nothingness. Sometimes I just smile and laugh.
* * *
I believe that old people die when their loved ones have already passed. I've heard those stories, after a month or two, the other person goes. Dies of loneliness, they say. Snot and Lady were born a week apart and they died less than two months apart. Tomorrow I will drive to Portland, the first time I will have been home in months, since before the trials, and I will dig a hole beside Lady. I will put Snot in that hole. Ashes to Ashes and all that. Then Mom and I will walk to the bar, across the road, and eat greasy cheeseburgers. I will drink a PBR.
I will start walking to the river and it'll turn into a sprint. Right up to the the goddamn banks. And I'll stop. I will want to scream, but I'll just stare into the currents.
"Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up."