In the last week, I’ve seen six conservative Mennonite women with their hair pinned under bonnets and long, flowing, flower dresses. I know it was 6 times because I counted. There was one working in the emergency room, there was another one shopping at Target, another one shopping at Safeway, one walking around the campus at my school, and two walking together downtown. This stands out so clearly to me, because in the entire time I’ve lived in Yakima I’ve never noticed one. People have told me that there is a conservative community out there, somewhere, as in: “I think they live in Moxee and make cheese.” But have I ever seen evidence of their existence? No, I would have noticed. (I think.)
So this past week I’ve been wondering why now? I’ve been missing my home town desperately, so maybe it’s just my mind being tuned to the signs of what I lack. Or perhaps in all my praying about where the future may lead, this is the universe’s way of reassuring me. Or, who knows.
Yesterday while I was in the garden, I saw hundreds of ladybugs. I always see ladybugs in times of great change.
I was crying. It’s hard to verbalize why. I was picking tomatoes and red beans furiously. Just furiously. I was angry because my best friend moved to the other side of the country. I miss her, I miss having very many friends. I feel so lonely most of the time. It’s not because I don’t have friends in Yakima, although I pretend I don’t so I can feel sorry for myself. I have a lot of friends but not close friends, not “let me lay my troubles on you” friends, although I have many friends that could become that if I took the time to nurture the relationship. I suppose I was crying because I was realizing how selfish I can be, how selfish I’ve allowed the past five years to make me. How guarded and defensive I’ve become, how unwilling I’ve become to invest in others. How resentful I’ve become of my life. And why? Why am I feeling that way?
My life right now doesn’t suck. I enjoy school, I enjoy work, I don’t fantasize about my husband getting in a car wreck and dying. Life has made progress!
But I still feel the hangover of exhaustion from all the trauma that led me here, the constant desire for some kind of vacation that I will never get. It’s been years since I’ve had a single night away from the children. YEARS. I can’t even put my finger on the last time I woke up in the morning not feeling completely exhausted.
I sit in the garden picking red beans and wondering when that chore will end. Why? I enjoy it.
I stare at the tomatoes and wonder if I should stop watering the garden and let them die. Why? I enjoy them.
I curse the fact that anything, even the things I love, even friendships, ask something of me. Why? Why? Why?
When did I decide that I have nothing left to give, no more energy to invest, no more desire to make the effort to make my own life better? I’ve spent the last 30 years waiting for someone to come along and take care of me, and there is still this little part of me that constantly says, “damn it. Why do I have to take care of myself?”
My mom’s latest favorite phrase is that we have to be ridiculously responsible for our own worlds.
It’s still something I’m learning.
But somewhere in the mess of the garden ending, in the gallon of dried pods of red beans and the pile of halfhearted tomatoes, in the soil that badly needs more nutrition and the yard that is giving up on life for lack of nutrients, I heard a small voice asking me if I was willing to be taken care of. Isn’t all of this part of the same cycle, the cycle wherein I pretend there’s nothing I can do? As if my life is still something that happens to me, I am still a victim, instead of someone who is capable of making life what I need it to be.
I swear, I heard God laughing. As if he can’t be my rest, my care, my friend.
As if I’ve been missing the point.
There were ladybugs everywhere, on everything, crawling on my hands. I was wondering, have I even seen ladybugs out here before?
It’s okay. It’s okay that I don’t know my future. I haven’t known my future for five years now, and it’s been okay. So I had one future wrenched away. So what? That future wouldn’t have been good for me. I do have friends, I do have a life, I do have ladybugs.
I’ll get some sleep eventually.
I tell myself I don’t know how much longer I can remain strong, how much work is left in me.
But don’t I want to find out?
It’s like resenting going to the gym but at the same time wanting a nice body.
When am I going to learn to be grateful for the fact that here, now, I have a chance to make my life something that nourishes me?
So I laid down in the dirt like a crazy person and laughed and cried. The neighbor walked by and said, “garden fell apart, eh?”
I threw a tomato at him and replied, “it still makes food, ya jerk.”
We had a good laugh.
Laughing is good.