You see, we have a lot of meetings this week (and last week, and the week before), and I was missing my family more than I was missing Elizabeth Gilbert. I made the right choice. My very independent, six year old spent the whole meal, practically in my lap. I felt like I was running a three-legged sack race all night. At the end of the day, she didn’t want to let go of my midsection to go to sleep.
It’s strange, living in the D.C. region. We miss so much. A couple months ago, John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates were both doing readings. Did I go? No. Barbara Kingsolver? Missed. This month Dave Eggers will be here (okay, there’s no missing that one…I thought he was a recluse…). There’s a free concert every single night at the Kennedy Center, across the street from my church, and I have not gone in a year.
If I were reading this from rural parish, I would either (1) hate the author with a seething fury, or (2) think that she was some sort of moronic cultural misfit. So, to the people who are frustrated in rural areas: You are amazing, you ought to be paid much, much more, and I’m sorry for bringing all of this up. I’ve been there too. If you come to visit D.C., I can tell you where all the great shows, restaurants, authors, and exhibits are. I just may not be able to visit them with you.
I’m not the only one. I remember talking to Jack Stotts, when he left his presidency at McCormick Seminary to become the president at Austin Seminary. He made the move, of course, because Austin (my alma mater) is such a good school. But, he also did it because he had an elderly mother, who was in Texas and she didn’t want to leave Texas. (Is this public knowledge? I hope so….)
I worked for Jack. I was his student assistant, and I did some research and editing for him. I learned so much from him. We often reminisced about Chicago, and he would say, “The thing I miss about Chicago is having the option to do things. I didn’t go to the shows or museums, but I always had the opportunity out there. And that was nice.”
In Chicago, I was younger, and I rarely missed an exhibit or show that was in my price range. But now, fifteen years later, they seem to slip by pretty easily. Brian reads the arts and style sections and says, “Did you know that Shawn Colvin is coming into town?”
And I reply, “Really? I would love to see her again.” But it’s hard to get a babysitter and since we’re both pastors, we’re already gone so many evenings, and it’s just nice to be at home. Or at The Hard Times Cafe, eating chili, with a grown child on my lap.
I almost got frustrated when I tripped over her for the tenth time on the way to the car. But, we were all hungry for affection. And how long will I be able to get a two-hour hug from my daughter? She’ll be growing out of that by next week, and then, the next week, I’ll be sending her off to college. At least that’s how it feels. I don’t want to be a smothering mother, but I also want to savor every last moment of affection, while she’s willing to dish it out.
Jack Stott’s mother died. I bet he never regretted the move from Chicago–even if he missed a few readings.