Betty Duffy

(Amateur)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When the Words Come Back to Get You...

You can say what you want about the legitimacy of blogging, but one thing it does do is hold its authors accountable. Thinking about the parties I've got coming up here, it occurred to me rereading my last post that I've had a laissez-faire attitude regarding my son's First Communion this weekend.

If I believe what I say I believe as a Catholic, this event is one of the most important in his life, and as such, is worthy of a bit of my labor. So...I have ironed a table cloth:


I love looking at other people's neatly stacked linens, the way decorating magazines will arrange antique textiles in shabby-chic pie-safes. I have, however, been apathetic about making my own stacks of neatly ironed linens. My table-cloths usually live in the bottom drawer with the dish towels and occasionally are used as dish-towels when the real thing has run out.

But there is something generous about the sight of a good table-cloth. My sister wrote an article several years ago for Canticle Magazine about the lost art of hospitality. My sister has great parties, and I have always been inspired by her family's celebration of Sacraments.

I remember a Baptism years ago, where my sister refused my Mom's suggestion that she lighten her preparation burden by serving canned pineapple rather than fresh in her fruit salad. I'm easy to please, but I really felt taken care of by my sister's unwillingness to compromise (I love fresh pineapple). I also enjoyed the loving preparation of her Mimosas. If only half of her benevolence could rub off on me...

But I'm always surprised by how much I like ironing. The hardest part is getting out the ironing board, but after that, I don't want to stop. Ironing is low concentration enough that I can listen to music while I work. Listened to Hildegard Von Bingen, which matched the overcast mood outdoors, the grim light coming in the windows. I remember walking the towpath along the Thames River, listening to Hildegard on the walkman and daring myself to dive in and skinny dip to my death like a Kate Chopin heroine (the purpose of chant was lost on me). It was so romantic to feel alone in the world. The mood recalls another recent post (accountability moment) spent mooning for friends that I refuse to make.

It has been a lifelong drama of mine to withdraw and shoot silent arrows at the silhouettes in the distance. Starting around eleven years old, when our family went on vacation together, I would take my notebook into the woods behind the lakehouse, sit on a stump and write, "I'm so alone!!! Those people in that house five hundred yards away have no idea how they're hurting me!" I could have closed my notebook and gone back to the house and asked if anyone wanted to play cards, but then I'd have had nothing to write about.

That these reflections occur preparing for a series of recurrant parties throughout the remainder of Spring makes obvious that, contrary to fancy, I am not alone at all, and perhaps to my chagrin, I never have been. If I hadn't documented all my groaning on this blog, I might never have realized how offensive the assertion of my loneliness really is.

So...sorry for that.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are a breath of fresh air.

Kathy said...

It's so nice You are doing something to prepare for your son's First Communion.Last year my fourth child made her First Communion on Mother's Day. My husband was out of town, no family around and I had two out of seven kids vomiting in the car on the way to church.When we got home I ordered some pizza for the kid's who could keep it down and I cleaned vomit out of the car. Typical family event for us and I didn't feel lonely at all.

BettyDuffy said...

Kathy, that's the clencher, you can prepare all you want, and someone could still barf all over it. God love 'em.

I have to admit, last year's First Communion party was a bit of a drag. Had a younger baby, and no energy at all. Hope the kids don't compare.

Suburbanbanshee said...

Sometimes it's all about comfort and consolation, sometimes it's all about suffering and offering. :)

TS said...

It was so romantic to feel alone in the world.

Perfectly captures a mood that I'd forgotten I'd experienced.

TS said...

I remember walking the towpath along the Thames River, listening to Hildegard on the walkman and daring myself to dive in and skinny dip to my death like a Kate Chopin heroine

And I remember walking in the mud along an Ohio sewer ditch listening to Tori Amos and daring myself to grab 'un of 'em crawdads.

BettyDuffy said...

TS and Tori Amos? Who'd'a thunk? You really do have a thing for the emotive ladies.

Anonymous said...

I love this. I'd buy any book you publish...
I love the phrase "mooning for friends that I refuse to make". My goodness, I'm good at that.