Wednesday, March 08, 2006
that one thing
It’s almost Easter. You wouldn’t know it if you lived in Boston. But Bostonians have calendars, and thank goodness for that. Otherwise, all of us would soon be putting up our Christmas lights again, assuming we just decided to skip the months of this year which do not consist of anything above 47 degrees. Those green, warm days really were a nuisance. Let’s stick with frigid and dead.
But I digress…(I really can dwell too negatively on the weather here. One might begin to think I don’t like it, and I won’t have that.)
So everyone has Easter memories, yes? (Okay, most Christians anyway?) One strong memory I have from childhood is our family egg hunts. Now those were the days. All the kids would be confined to the living room, and the long heavy drapes would be drawn to block off our view of the back yard. We’d get all excited and hyper in there, like little red rubber balls bouncing in every direction, as we waited for the parents and grandparents to finish hiding all the eggs.
Grandpa had this beautiful, well-kept, rather large back yard with fun hiding places: bird houses, garden statues, a covered swing, a rose garden (watch out for thorns!) It was always fun. And every year…I couldn’t wait. Every year…I’d get ready to find the secret treasures encapsulated in plastic pastel eggs. Some would even be filled with money for more candy after my Easter stash ran dry. And there was always the jackpot egg, the one with the $10 bill tucked inside. It was almost more than my little heart could stand. The anticipation was electric.
Looking back now I find it sadly comical the amount anticipatory build-up I devoted in my heart and mind to these egg hunts. Because every year, every STINKING year (and my family will attest, because it’s a well-known family fact) that Mary never, NEVER, found any eggs on her own. Right on up until the cutoff age of 12, I never found any eggs.
I have vivid memories, and they do not lie. As soon as the designated parent would open the back door of the house and declare the much awaited “Oh-kayyyy!!” the kids burst out of the house like it was on fire. The first to break out were always the boys, those competitive spirits smartly complementing their athletic bodies. No doubt they’d spent their waiting period carefully developing their strategy of where to go first, and in what order, and how to trick the other kids into looking for eggs in barren regions while they made a break for the good spots. Meanwhile, Mary in la-la-loo-loo land is dreaming about the sparkly lip smackers lip gloss she’s going to buy with her Easter egg money, never thinking for a second that she may have to fight tooth and nail for it against enemies that show no mercy, who will mow her down in a second if she stands between them and chocolate.
Perhaps it’s because I always broke late from the gate, usually among the last of the cousins to be on the field searching. It seemed that by the time my foot touched grass, three-quarters of the eggs had already been snatched up by more spry kinfolk.
So here I am, empty pink and green basket…roaming. Wandering aimlessly. Making figure-eights in my walk as more astute scavengers are whizzing past with the fury of flying predators. The one year-old, who’s been a biped for maybe three weeks, already has a full basket. And she’s pointing and laughing at me.
I search in the usual places - the clothes line, the garden hose wheel, under the hedges, in the holes of the wood fence, the sprinkler heads – all eggs have been retrieved.
It is at this point in the hunt, the point where most of the kids are now sitting down on the lawn counting all their eggs and eating their recently discovered treats, where observing parents notice I’m still looking for Eggo Numero Uno, take pity, call to me, and begin to non-discreetly tilt their heads in uncomfortable directions, or shift their raised eyes to certain spots of yard yet untouched, or walk me over to specific places and ask me if I see anything special. Were it not for these kindly interventions, I admit with shame that I would have gone home empty-handed. Lastly, I have a strong memory of my dear father looking at me and chuckling in this sort of loving, bewildered way as he shook his head from side to side, and gave me reassuring hugs. (I don’t blame him, it is actually funny to think of a 10 year-old having such a hard time with this.)
In summary, my egg-hunting skills are, to this day, grossly under-developed. A few possible contributing factors:
1. No real competitive spirit
2. Not really good with that spatial learning stuff
3. Not comfortable with fighting for it, not even for candy
Okay this concludes the tour of Memory Lane. Now we come to the part where I liken my Easter egg hunt experiences to my search for a husband.
HA! No, seriously. I am about to do that. I just think it’s funny that that’s what I’m about to do.
How many times have I felt that everyone sees it but me? They see the prize, and they know how to get it. They understand that one thing that I don’t. That “one thing” that is the lynchpin. Once you find it, the whole axis shifts from its graphing point, the stars align, and everything falls into place. If I knew what that “one thing” was, I’d see it too, and I’d take my prize like the others.
How many times have I felt like I’m drawing figure eights with my mind? Going back over the same territory thinking perhaps I’ve missed something, only maybe all I’m doing is wasting time in well-covered territory?
How many times have I seen babies finding it before I do?
How many times have I searched in the usual places, even the places where people tell me to go, and find nothing? “There!” they say, “Do you see it? It’s right in front of you!” How many times have I gone almost insane following their finger with my eyes, looking for what they’re pointing to, into what seems like empty space, furiously scanning over nothing and thinking “I don’t see it! Where is it?”
Why do other people find it and I can’t?
I suppose I did break late from the gate in search of love - - the real kind, that is. And as long as we’re continuing with this metaphor, I will add that I’m STILL on the playing field searching, while many of my counterparts have ended their search with satisfaction. When you’ve been out as long as I have, you find many vacant spots where eggs once were, and to find a good egg is not as easy as it was when you first began.
Lest you, the reader, fear that I’m sinking into despair with these thoughts, I beg you to keep reading. It is true that decades later I’m still looking for my Eggo Numero Uno. It’s possible the reason my search has taken longer rests on a few previously examined factors: I do not compete for eggs, I’m a slow-learner, or I lack confidence to fight for what I want. But hold the phone, because I’ve got a few saving graces working for my benefit in turn.
I do have kindly interventions, people who continue to steer me over to greener pastures and prize-potentials. And I really appreciate that help from those who are older, wiser, or both. Though, I have to admit, at times the interventions are embarrassing to me.
My most advantageous memory, however, is that I know I have a Father, who undoubtedly chuckles with love and shakes his head in bewilderment from time to time, as He watches me and guides me and, without fail, manages to give me reassuring hugs at every wrong turn. He reminds me that I don’t need to find lots of eggs, I just need to bring home one. And would you believe that it’s with those small graces that I continue on, and keep up this dumb search with just that much added dose of hope?
Maybe someone hid my egg in the next-door neighbor’s yard? Now that’s messed up. Hang on, I’m going over there to check.
Not to share, of course.
But the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances.
So saith Aristotle.
I liken my love life or lack therof to Christmas.
hobo: thank you so much for the comment, but i have to point out that aristotle only liked "commanding" metaphors. have you opened your Christmas gift yet, richard?
g: i'll do my best, love. but i'm not doing the dirty work for ya. :-)
I came home from my mission the week before Easter, and though I knew my parents didn't buy and hide eggs for me and my two brothers who were living at home, I came rushing down the stairs on Easter morning, ransacking the living room looking for eggs, just because I knew it would make my mom laugh.
Now let's see if I can turn this into a metaphor:
Sometimes, you have to look for eggs (husbands) in places that are safe from the harsh elements. Whatever that means. And sometimes, you just have to put everything you find into a communal pot to be shared with everyone... whatever that means. And sometimes, you go looking frantically even though you know there's nothing to find, and it only serves for others' amusement. Whatever that means.
Great post, Mary.
I recall looking for eggs in our house one easter and finding one that had been hid the year before (and we're talking REAL eggs here). Why do the only ones I find turn out to be rotten?
I recall that happening to our family once or twice...the stinky egg. Don't worry, love...the egg in the basket with your name on it smells like swiss chocolate. That's how you'll know he's for you.
Mary, you are so awesome. I was giggling along with you, imagining you in la la loo loo land, but then you made me really feel your struggle, because I know it so well. And I know it's those small graces that get us through. Hugs.
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