Holidays on Eggshells, Day 3
Vacationing with Monks
Day 3 (December 22) — 10:16 a.m., Sitting at the kitchen table alone
That is what happens when one smashes their head against the keyboard. Repeatedly.
The honeymoon is over. Oh days 1 and 2, how I miss thee. Mavis and I had our first real throw-down. The conversation about Christmas Eve was just a warm-up to the main event. I’m thankful she’s gone off to work now so I can just be alone.
I woke up early this morning, with a slight I-imbibed-on-too-much-wine headache. After Mavis returned from morning Mass, we sat down at the kitchen table and had breakfast together. Spanish Inquisition #2:
Mavis: What are you going to do today? Do you need the car? Don’t you want to go out and take care of some things?
Anna: No, I’m good. I’m going to hang out here and wrap presents and burn some CDs for Elise and Vanessa.
Mavis: Are you sure? You can take my car of you want. You can just drop me off at work. Or I could stay home from work and keep you company.
Anna: Mom, I’m fine. Really. Go to work.
Mavis: You know, your dad is really worried about you. He thinks I should be here with you as much as possible.
Anna: Don’t worry, I am perfectly content to hang out here and amuse myself. You guys will be home later, we’ll eat dinner together and that’s fine. And you’re both off from work tomorrow. It’s all good.
Mavis: You know, when Allan stayed with us for three weeks earlier this year, you know, following that horrible thing between him and Kristine, he used to enjoy sitting down and eating dinner with us. I think he missed that. He was just so overweight and depressed… and I’m sure you feel the same way right now. And it must be nice to have the company when you’re so alone most of the time.
Anna: (Silently sipping coffee)
NOTE FROM AUTHOR: We interrupt this scintillating dialogue with another forehead-to-the-keyboard moment: pa98hytphn94qwt[nh0wjig[0ihanwrg[i0hnawgti[0hnkagW[I0HNEWGQJI[HQAGJ]O-G-o]jgQ-J]Oj-]-OJ]J-et-]j
Mavis: So, are you going to see any of your friends? What about Denise?
Anna: I’m going to see her tomorrow.
Mavis: You know, she has such a beautiful family. I see them in church every Sunday. She’s really created a beautiful life and stuck to what’s really important, what truly counts. Husband, kids, family, God.
Mavis: I just wish… Oh, anyway. Are you sure you don’t need the car?
Anna: Yes, I’m sure. You know mom, this year has been tough and I just need to be. Hanging out here and writing and reading all day is what I want to do. It’s healthy for me… something I lost sight of during the break-up and depression. I think once I get out of this fog, I want to truly take a vacation just for me. I’ve told you I want to go to Ireland next year, right?
Mavis: I don’t think you should travel alone. It’s not safe for a single woman and, again, you’re isolating.
Anna: On a trip abroad? I think that’s the opposite of isolation, honestly.
Mavis: If you really need a vacation, I need to share this book I have with you. It’s about doing a spiritual retreat in your own home.
Anna: That sounds a bit isolating.
Mavis: Oh but it’s not, because God will be with you. He’ll be present. So here’s how it works…
… and here’s where Mavis babbles on for 10 minutes straight — without me saying a word — about how I go about my daily routine during this “retreat” and stop three times a day to do “intense prayer.” I guess the book provides an outline for your 3-day retreat of daily business interrupted by bouts of talking with God. Maybe I’m just some sort of stupid heathen, but honestly, I sort of didn’t get it. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to read this book and try to figure it out. (Am I being close-minded? Perhaps. We all have our flaws.)
Anna: Hmmm. Interesting.
Mavis: You know, you got me thinking. If you really need a vacation away from home, there’s a monastery not far from Providence. I did some research. And you can go there for a week and pray with the monks and do vespers every day. It’s inexpensive, cheaper than a plane ticket to Ireland. And you’ll be able to really figure out your problems and reflect and focus on what you should be doing with your life. You can’t do that in Ireland.
Anna: No offense, mom, but that doesn’t sound like the vacation I need. I just spent 6 days in an outpatient psychiatric program. Let’s just say that was my time for reflection.
And here’s where Mavis (again) blah-blah-blahs about the monastery and the shaky state of my relationship with God and how this will help me…and as my eyes glaze over I notice one of my squirrel friends (I’ve been feeding them peanuts) is out on the terrace. So mid-babbling I get up, take peanuts out of the kitchen cupboard and head for the back door. Note: the back door is literally 6 feet away from where my mom is sitting.
Anna: I’m still listening mom, continue. I’m just going to throw some peanuts out the back door.
Mavis: Oh never mind, Anna. I’m done talking to you, you just don’t listen. You’re just like your father, you get up and walk away mid-conversation.
Anna: (Thinking to herself, “Conversation? It’s more like one-sided lecture, but whatever. And damn, isn’t my dad smart?”).
Mavis: (Huffing out of the kitchen and heading toward her bedroom). You know, Anna, the monastery might not be YOUR idea of a vacation, and I feel sorry for you because you feel that way. You just don’t listen.
Anna: (Standing in the kitchen, with tears in her eyes): Mom, I just need a real vacation, why don’t YOU just listen. Why don’t you understand the crap I’ve been through this year and my need to heal and get better on my own terms.
Mavis: I feel sorry for you! So very sorry. (bedroom door slams)
Perhaps my sister Elise is right. Her advice in these situations is just “go with the flow.” Nod and smile and say “Yes, mom, I’ll research that monastery when I get home. In the meantime, why don’t you email me any information you have about it?” Why do I feel the need to expose my buttons for her to push, and conversely, challenge her thinking and “authority”?
Roughly 96 hours to go on this roller-coaster. Let’s hope I remembered to fasten the safety belt.