Salem and I just spent two days at my mom’s place in the Virginia mountains. Mom lives in the small, rural community that is the model for Jericho. To give you an idea of how small this place is, there is only ONE spot in the entire county where you can get cell phone service…sort of. And that’s in the Methodist Church parking lot, at the SECOND picnic table (I tried them all)—and then you only get about TWO bars if you hold your mouth exactly right, and haven’t blasphemed against the Holy Spirit for at least 72 hours.
But I digress.
Saturday afternoon, I had to hit the picnic shelter at the little Methodist Church on the Great Big Rock—because, like a nimrod, I forgot to pack the amazon.com gift card we all chipped in on for my sister-in-law’s birthday. My mother would have scowled a lot longer about this oversight had not we arrived with a trunk-full of food (including a secret stash of lemon bars that Salem procured for mom’s private enjoyment). I had no way to print the gift card out—my mother has no Internet, no computer, and not the slightest desire to acquire either. [She only JUST got a cell phone…under duress…and she cannot figure out how to turn its ringer on. So you can call her on it, but it never rings—which means she never answers it. Strangely, the whole “don’t call us, we’ll call you” mantra totally works for her.]
So I sat there, in the blazing afternoon heat, watching dust from the graveled county road drift by in clouds, as I waited for my iPhone to reconnect to the cosmos. When it finally did, I got that telltale email alert, and I watched all the little inbox flags scroll by. One in particular caught my eye, so I took a minute to read it.
My best friend—the woman who is the prototype for Rizzo in “Falling from Grace”—was writing to tell me that she’s getting married.
Married? Rizzo? Really???
I’ve known Rizzo for 25 years. “Married” just didn’t seem like a term in her lexicon. I looked around. Was there some new world order?
I mean…there I was, sitting in a church parking lot in the Virginia mountains, hoping there was enough dust rolling by to prevent Jesus from seeing my ass. AND it was 102 degrees—which has happened, like, TWICE in this place since the Pleistocene. AND I had just spent the afternoon up in the woods behind the barn shooting handguns at paper targets with my two brothers. [ n.b. Who knew that Salem West was a crack shot and laureate of some NRA course? Note to self: do NOT piss this woman off during deer season….]
So maybe the idea of Rizzo finally finding the right man to settle down with wasn’t all THAT strange?
Nah. It still pretty much blew my socks off.
The world is just topsy-turvey these days. It’s like that Yeats poem: “Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.” But sometimes, things fall apart and make better patterns. Climate change might suck for the higher elevations, but Rizzo getting hitched might just ignite some new kind of eternal Spring.
That’s what I think, anyway.
But then, I’m the one at picnic table number two, hiding from Jesus…. Draw your own conclusions.