Sunday, September 20, 2009

On religious encounters

Yesterday (today, Sunday, hasn’t seen any adventures yet) I went for a walk. It was an exercise in Digressionism, to say the least, and therefore I feel compelled to write about it here. I’m not pretending this is the gospel of Mari, but for any of you out there with a foot or more in my religion of choice, reading this might be a good place to start. It also has a tad of “real” religion in it, but I will try to avoid sticking my tongue too far into the bee hive.


Before I left the house, my landlady/host mom/roomie/TV buddy, Linda, told me about a craft fair at the Presbyterian Church nearby. She gave me some directions, and I decided to see if I could find it. My original plan had, after all, been limited to “go outside since the weather is good” (Norwegian to the bone). A goal was not unwelcome.

By now I have lived here for close to two months, and with a lot of help from a map, the elimination method (otherwise known as trying and failing and failing and failing and failing before maybe succeeding), and directions from random passersby (frequently squirrels) – I have with time learned to navigate the tricksy streets of my neighbourhood despite my lousy sense of direction. That is – I have learned to navigate the parts of it I actually need to know. Send me off in any other direction, however, and I am lost as a cupcake. To my defence, let me point out my poor sense of direction (or lack thereof) isn’t the only thing to blame – the neighbourhood I live in really feels like a maze most of the time. I remember the first few times I went in here (as a passenger) in a car, and I realized that I would never be able to get back out again on my own. Not too far from the truth. The streets all have similar sounding names (most of them has something with a tree in them – pine-; forest-; wood-;– get the drift?) , and for some reason they seem to be moving around (you thought you were walking down Woodberry Lane, but all of a sudden, you find yourself in Wells Parkway. You take a left in Pineway Drive, knowing that this will take you up to Forrest Hill, but no – you’re back on Well’s Parkway. The only safe thing with these streets, really, is that no matter where you try to go, you will always end up in Well’s Parkway. It’s magnetic, or something). In addition, 90% of the houses are made of red brick, and they all have similar looking yards and driveways. All the driveways are inhabited by one Lexus and one minivan. I kid you not.

So, to expect me to find the Presbyterian Church on my first attempt, was a haphazard to say the least.

I walked down our street. I knew that if I only followed it to the end, I would end up at Route 1, which would take me either to College Park town or to the area where the church was supposed to be, depending of which way I went. However, since I now know the area “so well”, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a little detour. Since it was such a lovely day, I wanted to take some lovely pictures with my lovely camera (whose name is Buck, so you’re all introduced). This was a bad idea.

I walked in what I thought was a circle. When I get lost, I usually walk in circles. When I am not lost, or have not yet understood that I am lost, however, it turns out I don’t walk in circles. Either that, or the circle failed to take me back to the start (that’s not really an “either”, is it? Circles always take you back to the start – that is sort of the point...). Anyway, where I ended up was (amazingly enough) not Well’s Parkway, and thus I had lost my one foolproof method of navigation. Since I didn’t have my map with me, and since I no longer trusted the elimination method since it now apparently did not take me back to Well’s, I was forced to turn to my last option: ask someone.

The first squirrel I met was not very helpful. I tried to climb the tree it directed me to, but no luck. I should have known better – Presbyterians are too down to earth to have their churches in trees.

After a while I ran into a nice looking group of mothers and kids, and they were able to give me much more useful directions. Apparently, I had been walking in circles after all – only the church was in the middle of the circle.

Once I got there, the fair was almost over. I went in, looked at a few items, and figured out that I was not feeling entirely comfortable there. I had not brought a lot of cash, and I had also failed to bring any sincere intentions to buy anything. Nothing feels worse than having 4th graders look at you with their big puppy eyes, wondering why you’re not buying the egg cosy they have made under great risk of stinging their own fingers. I ended up getting a couple of used books (25 cents each, so I had cash for those) – ironically one was about a sordid love affair and the other one was about a Jewish man losing his faith (was this my suppressed opposition to organized religion speaking?). Then I left, feeling oddly aware of my (limited, yet visible) cleavage and the fact that I was in a church.

I don’t mind religion, especially not when people don’t feel the urge to convert others (which, I should point out, no one in that church seemed to have even the tiniest inkling to do). I even respect it – to the point that I feel compelled to be properly dressed when I visit a church or another religious site, since I am the one coming to them and thus should strive to not offend anyone. However, even after this brief encounter with religion, I felt the need to seek an idolatry that much more fits my personality – Starbucks (which incidentally is where my camera got her name. Yes, she is a she. Don’t ask). This time I easily navigated my way back to Route 1, went into College Park and found my place of worship.

Currently reading: Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen, though with only some 50 pages left, I believe I soon will venture on to the “new orange book” (that you will have to good grace to hear about tomorrow).

Currently listening to: September’s Playlist as assembled by J. M. Hunter at this awesome blog (I stalk the blog for the music, and end up giggling over the incredibly funny posts).

Currently eating: Goldfish S’mores – since I was too lazy to go make real breakfast before writing this…

2 comments:

J. M. Hunter said...

Hey, thanks for the mention! I also get a good laugh out of your blog, and totally and completely blame you for my inability to finish my WIP...

Cruella Collett said...

Uh-oh, I don't want to be responsible for that... (Can't you blame the mauve instead?) The blog IS worth a mention, though!

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