Saturday, April 14, 2018

Church Of Brenda--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Thursday May 2

     I gave a lead at a recovery meeting I don’t normally attend. Their format was to have a speaker read from a twelve-step magazine, comment on the story, and invite everyone to join small discussion groups.
     “Look through these magazines and choose a story, no big deal,” a woman said, pointing to a pile of magazines.
     I picked up a magazine, quickly leafed through it, chose a story about finding spirituality outdoors, and sat behind a table at the front of the room to read. The story was about a guy who couldn’t connect with God in church but felt something greater than himself in nature. After attending a sweat lodge ceremony, he sensed the divine in nature more acutely.
     “Sitting in a church doesn’t do much for me either,” I told the group. “But I’ve been moved to tears in nature. I love to ski. The mountains, to me, are divine. I was riding a chairlift in Breckenridge with my friend, Abby. We got off and I got all choked up and said, ‘Look at this Abby. God is here.’ Abby narrowed her eyes at me like I was whacko and skied off.”
     Everyone started laughing.
     “Another time, I was skiing the back of Steamboat with my sister. One of the chairlifts runs through thick pines and Gray Jays were swooping out of trees and landing on people’s outstretched hands. I turned around on the lift and looked at the people behind me. A man had a bird on his hand. I got off the lift and waited for him.
     “‘Are you feeding the birds?’ I asked.
     “The man gave me a handful of peanuts. ‘Stick out your arm and they’ll eat out of your hand,’ he said.
     “Feeling like Snow White, I skied down, got back on the lift, and offered my sister some peanuts. She made a face, shook her head, and said, ‘Birds freak me out.’”
     Everyone laughed again.
     “I put the peanuts in my hand and extended my arm. A Gray Jay swooped down and landed on my hand. It was magical. I started crying.
     “One night, I went out on my horse,” I continued. “We were riding in the woods before dusk and it was dark when we hit the last half-mile to the barn. BlackJack and I were getting eaten by mosquitoes. I signaled him to start running and he took off. The fireflies were out. We ran through glowing swarms of fireflies, their iridescent green lanterns swirling around us. I couldn’t stop saying thank-you to the sky when I got off. I was crying then, too.
     “I don’t like church," I concluded. "I blend yoga, my twelve-step program, and a little bit of Kabbalah with a bit of my christian upbringing and call it the Church of Brenda. You can join if you want to.”
     Everyone laughed hard at that.

     “How are you?” Golf Guy texted later.

     “I’m good. How was teaching?”

     “Was pretty good until about one, then got pretty cold.”

     “Looks like a coat and hat day tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. Guess we’ll see how it goes. Even when the weather is lousy, I’m grateful I don’t sit in a cubicle. I could if I had to, but I think it would kill me.”

     “Well said. I am grateful every day and feel lucky that I love what I do. What are you up to?”

     “Writing. Working on my book. I’m fortunate to do what I do, too.” Twenty minutes went by. I suspected Golf Guy was googling me.

     “Are you aware of my published book?”

     “Yes ma’am. I would like to read it.”

     “I’ll give you a copy tomorrow if we’re not rained out. You’ll learn more about me than you want to know.”

     “Then I won’t read it.”

     “If you wrote a book, I’d definitely read it.”

     “I can barely write. I watched your interview on that father something show.”

     “I hated that show. Felt like I needed to shower afterward.”

     “You seem to be a very strong person.”

     “I guess. I’m going to die one day. I don’t want to live a bullshit life.”

     “I have a confession to make.”

     “Go for it.”

     “I came up to you in the dome that day because your butt was perfect. Pretty shallow right?”

     “I’m glad you did.”

     Golf Guy sent an emoticon with gritted teeth. Then he sent one that looked demented.

     “And that means?”

     “Just being silly,” he texted. “Want to hear something else silly?”


     “I can do the splits.”


     “Pretty weird, right?”

     “I haven’t done them since last summer. Didn’t warm up because it was 95 degrees out. Lowered down to the ground and pop, pop, pop. Hamstring.”

     “That sucks. Your golf swing is going to end up being very good.”

     “You think? Have you always been able to do the splits? Regular or Chinese?”

     “I can almost do them, and I’m not sure of the difference. I’ve always been very flexible.”

     “One leg back, one leg forward: regular. Legs out to each side: Chinese.”

     “The former.”

     “Okay, now I have to do the splits again.”

     “Don’t hurt yourself.”

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