Denial

I found myself standing outside, lost, twirling around in circles. I think we still call this season spring, even though many people skip around like summer already knocked, but I read somewhere recently that summer starts in another month; all of these people in Texas and in every other state have thirty more days to cross off their calendars. Why do they say already that summer arrived? They rush ahead, like a couple skipping ahead to the next season of their relationship when they clearly should have just stayed in spring. So I decided to crouch down, my nose inching closer and closer to the dirt and the ants that wandered around. The dirt seemed bumpy like dry elbows that scream for lotion, cracked with outlines that formed shapes like continents, but these ants cross over all the borders, like they want every stamp in their passport and like they know nothing about boundaries. I ask the ants, if it rains and the dirt turns to mud and the boundaries of the continents blur, do they, whoever they are, form new governments? One, two…seven, fifteen, eighteen. I watched these ants file in and out of these continents, and what do they do down there? In and out, in and out, this way, that way, this way, that way, changing directions like Peter’s denial, not once or twice, but three times. Does he even know who to follow? I saw one ant really spaz out like an epilepsy patient foaming at the mouth, like someone falling down the stairs, like a beginner trying advanced tap dancing. I read that ants have over 400 distinct odor receptors, compared to silk moths with 52, and fruit flies with 61. What? Fine, but can they even hear a thing? They scurry around, but I watch their life on mute, no matter how many of them gang up together and stomp around the continental dirt; it reminds me of falling in the lake as a child and looking up with wide eyes as I sank to the bottom and watched the world continue on above me. That sounds harsh, like they chose not to rescue me. When I think about that story again, I hope it ends better; I hope they rescue me. I crouched down so long I had sheet marks on my knees and I wonder where my skin went, smooth like a globe replaced with alligator skin. The train whistled, so in Maryland that signals dinner time. These ants must get hungry? Maybe they can meet me in Maryland for crisp spring vegetables, forget the summer watermelon. 

This piece is my last assignment in Creative Writing in Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary, and my first attempt at mimicking Annie Dillard’s style in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Y’all

In case you were wondering, people really do say “Y’all” in Texas—all the time. Even those originally from Ohio adopted the twang.

I think I will have to fully process this experience over many months and years to come, but I can tell you that they missed the memo that they were supposed to walk around in only cowboy boots. These people wear real shoes, like flip flops and flats. They even work and wear suits and drink Starbucks. Who knew?

Traffic. Just a word on this headache. If anyone complains about the DC/Baltimore bumper-to-bumper again, come check out the Dallas grid lock. Huge four wheel drive pickups go off-roading in traffic jams. I can’t make this up. One-by-one they swerve to the nearest grassy area, hop the curb, make a U-turn—whatever it takes to show that this puny time-waster ain’t got nothin’ on them and their precious time.

Life does seem slower here, especially while sitting in traffic. But they have added artistic expression to the city culture over the years, so, yes, the Dallas Art Museum features Picasso and Monet. An art expert gave us a private tour in class today.

And, it turns out that tainted beef travels to Texas too. I learned to avoid ordering a taco salad with beef after 10 p.m. in a Mexican restaurant, especially while USDA recalled over 1.8 million pounds of ground beef across the country. I woke up the next day more thankful than ever for good friends who nurse you back to health. 

I have found life quite difficult without family, friends, and a my trusty Honda Civic. I’ve discovered hidden gems, like couches behind curtains in the library bathroom which they made for nursing moms but looked like a total godsend to me when I found myself stuck at school for nine hours. And I’ve found rides and friends in very unexpected places.

So, if you need a church or a swimming pool, come on down to this flat and wide-open state. And if you need a bigger and newer and better house than what you find, feel free to tear down and rebuild anything. Construction seems contagious in these parts. 

Y’all come see it for yourselves. The Bible Belt does exist.

A Letter to Texas.

Dear Texas,

My first day here and the thunder seems mad, or sad, that I arrived. Rumbling clouds and trees dripping tears of rain. But maybe not. My mom always described thunder as my grandmother bowling in heaven. Bowling makes people happy. Maybe this thunderstorm joyfully welcomes me.

I came to you in Dallas to write, and the boisterous thunder and trickling rain comforts me while I write. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than write while listening to the falling rain. Thank you for raining; thank you for the trickling on the roof.

You don’t scare me, Texas. I came because, well, things lined up to get me here and before I knew it I caught a flight like a fearless adventurer. It all very magically lined up. I dream big, what can I say. Why chase your dreams tomorrow when you can chase them today?

Looking forward to our time together. Everything’s bigger in Texas—maybe even dreams.

Yours truly,

Dream Catcher