I recollect I’ve seen this scene in the movies a dozen times over the past 20 years: girl friend/wife/lover walking alongside the road at night while husband/boyfriend/lover slowly drives beside her, window open, head bent, pleading with her to get back in the car. There’s been an argument/disagreement/blowup and in her mind walking away was the only option she had left. It really doesn’t matter who started what: the scene is all that matters.
Many people have this sort of drama in their everyday lives—more so I guess when young. I myself have had my share of “unsettled times”. Although at this point in my life one would be hard-pressed to find much turmoil between my wife and I—this while Sandi and I are having a glass of wine in our outdoor living room or enjoying an early evening cup of coffee and conversation. However, the other night, the lyrics to a Tom Waits song Please Call Me Baby came to mind—they had been literally rolling around in my head all day since I woke up with them repeating themselves in my just-before-waking dreams.
On my way to work that morning, I found the song on my iPod and played it several times:
Please call me baby wherever you are
It’s too cold to be walking in the streets
We do crazy things when we’re wounded
Everyone’s a bit insane
I don’t want you catching your death of cold
Out walking in the rain.
The song is a jazzy piano type ballad and coupled with Wait’s gravelly voice, is a poem/picture story of the type often used in movies as the on-screen action leads you through the drama being acted out.
I guess what really intrigued me about this song, at this point in my life, is the juxtaposition between what I am living and what I know to be reality for many people—past and present.
In case you are wondering, I have actually had this happen to me. In the late sixties I dated a girl named Lindy who I had been friendly with since high school. I’d quit school and traveled the states and Europe and when I’d returned, against my better judgement, re-kindled a relationship with her. Her goal was to be a hair stylist and settle down and have the white picket fence and kids, etc. I’d graduated from night school, gone on to junior college and had a whole new world open up to me. This is not to say that either one of us was right or wrong—just that I was changing a lot faster than she was. My world seemed to be opening up and hers seemed to be getting smaller.
When I tried to break it off, there were many arguments and calls in the middle of the night to come pick her up from some out-of-the-way place because she didn’t have a ride home or whatever. She had mentioned doing harm to herself if I didn’t stick around and I guess I was more than a little confused at that point in my early twenties. Suffice it to say that I realized that the situation was beyond my control and one night I didn’t respond to her urgent call.
I don’t believe that I ever saw her again after that night. She ended up marrying a friend of mine who bought a lot in the country and keep her hidden behind the white picket fence.
Now remember, these are memories and sometimes I even wonder about how much is real and how much has been altered to fit my picture of what I wanted it to be.
All of these thoughts only led me to more thoughts about what is normal and why we aspire to that state of being. Normal (read: not a lot of drama) these days seems to have really wide parameters. Is normal taking a walk with your wife on Sunday morning or finding time to make art or work in your garden after a forty hour week. I guess I celebrate the beat of a different drummer until it begins to affect my space.
All of these thoughts then led me to thinking about Christianity and the church and how all of these people, those with hurts and extreme drama and those leading “normal” lives fit into the scheme of things. Does God love the one’s who have it more or less figured out more than those who seem to go from one situation to another bad choice. Does “knowing God” or being “Christian” keep us from the drama—help us through it—or is God so much bigger than we give Him credit for being and the reality is, we can’t begin to understand the subtleties of this life we find ourselves a part of.
After processing these pictures, I went out to mow the lawn on a Sunday afternoon—something I would have never done 10 years ago. As I mowed, I thought about Adam and Eve and wondered, knowing what I know now, whether I would have eaten the fruit Eve picked from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. At first I thought I would never have tasted it—then I mowed some more. On second go around I wondered what Eve must have looked like. Knowing a little bit about the creativity of God, my imagination says she was a most beautiful creation—not the anorexic swim suit model type but somewhere between a Titan model and a Degas Ballerina.
On second thought, knowing this, I probably would have eaten the apple, realized I was naked and taken a good hard look at Eve before gathering together a few leaves to hide the pertinent parts from view before the Garden cooled down and it was walk time.
It is just another day in the life of a “long rider”. Enjoy yours.