Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sibling Assignment #126: Being Raymond Pert

This assignment comes from InlandEmpireGirl and her post is here.

In the book The Happiness Project one of Gretchen Rubin's twelve commandments is to "Be Gretchen". Her goal was to identify what she really liked to do and spend time doing it. Have you ever spent time doing an activity because you thought you should, your friends wanted you to, or it seemed like the thing to do at the time ? Sibling Assignment #126 is "When you are "Being Raymond Pert" or " Being Silver Valley Girl" what are those things you encompass to create happiness in your life? Are there things you have let go of because they weren't you?" I will link their posts as they complete them.

This is a tough assignment for me.

I spend much more of my time contemplating, remembering, and feeling depression, illness, failure, loss, my shortcomings, doubts, self-recrimination, and melancholy.

I've had it hammered in my head for years that many of us live our lives in denial about what troubles us or about things we do or have done that have hurt others or ourselves. I've not wanted to be in denial, as they say, so I've replaced denial, at times in my life, with something almost like obsession, thinking about, reliving, feeling what I've done wrong in my life, the many ways I've fallen short.

Some might say it keeps me humble. I don't know. I think it keeps be uncertain and unsure of myself.

For example, I'm a Christian. Why didn't I immediately start writing about my happiness growing out of my faith? The self-recrimination begins. I hear those voices telling me that if I were really a Christian, I wouldn't feel doubt. I wouldn't beat myself up. I wouldn't feel unsure.

Some would tell me that if I surrendered to the Lord, all of that would be taken care of.

Well, that's not my experience.

So, now I'm going to put the kettle back on, boil some more water, make another cup of coffee, and think about the last year. I'm going to think about my life in the months that have passed since last August of 2009 when I experienced the happiest string of days I've known in years: I celebrated turning 55 years old with about twenty of my KHS Class of '72 friends and then spent several days relaxing with Mom and the rest of our family at Rockaway Beach.

Okay. Second cup of coffee finished.

I think it was the meatballs.

I was at the casino with Ed and then we stopped at the Dairy Queen in Newberg so Ed could hand over a rifle to Hudson, a guy who used to live in the Silver Valley and lives in Hubbard now.

It was President's Day. A bunch of KHS '72 graduates converged at Diane's house in Vancouver, WA for the weekend.

Three days off? What could be better than to have a mini-reunion?

The beefy tomato and basil smell of spaghetti sauce and meatballs filled Diane's house, and nearly bowled me over when Ed and I returned from our guns and gambling outing.

That meatball and tomato smell was so Kellogg Catholic, so Kellogg Italian, so made from scratch, so authentic -- warmth surged through me. I was home. I could be authentic. I could swear, dance, talk about my faith and listen to others talk about theirs; I could indulge in Diane's paradisaical homemade sangria wine, poured into a punch bowl over a huge ice doughnut. I listened to stories, took my best friends' shit, gave a little back, told some stories, ate Catholic spaghetti and homemade meatballs, as if I were at a St. Rita's spaghetti feed (when does the cake walk begin, I wondered), listened as Mike recreated the Universe of Wardner; Ken came from Alaska. His sister Linda would drop in on Sunday. I loved seeing her. It had been over thirty-five years.

If I'm going to "be Raymond Pert", I must be free to be Christian, uncouth, foul-mouthed, indulgent, respectful, reverent, irreverent, sarcastic, supportive, a teller of tall tales, a listener to tall tales, a gambler, a worshiper, intelligent, dumb, dumber, reserved, creative, maniacal, fearless, idiotic, insightful, playful, dead serious, a lover of rock and roll, a dancer, air guitarist: as much of my contradictory, inconsistent self as I can be.

I was all of that over President's Day weekend with my Kellogg friends. And with Jane Eischen all Friday afternoon over Thai food. Hers and my authenticity and age old love for each other properly prepared me for being reunited with those who've been my friends forever.

I got to be Raymond Pert again.

I knew it wouldn't last long.

In Eugene, the different parts of who I am get parceled out.

I'm Christian here.

Intelligent there.

Sarcastic elsewhere.

In Eugene, I'm never an air guitarist, dancer, or consumer of Kellogg Catholic spaghetti.

It never all comes together in Eugene, where I've lived for thirty years, in quite the same way it does with my Kellogg friends or my family.

It's why Eugene has never felt like home to me.

(If you'd like to read more about the President's Day weekend, go here for my reflections on the long lunch with Jane Eischen; go here for my original summary of the weekend.)

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