Wednesday, March 25, 2009

homebrew wedding, aka 'sorry, wedding industry.'

So, as most (both) readers of this blog likely know, Rachael and I are getting married in May. We've got a pretty simple shindig planned, but this stuff is all really expensive still. Turns out we're going homebrew on a lot of stuff. B and T might loan us their lovely car as a gift, to save us from renting one. Digger and I are just going to build a tent, rather then renting at exorbitant rates. And everybody's bringing potluck food to fill out the meager restaurant food we're buying.

I like the improv, medi-awesome aesthetic that is slowly arising out of the muck of phone calls and emails to various professionals and acquaintances. Rachael's making her own dress. Everybody's making their own parade costumes. It's more work, in some ways, but only in some ways.

It also highlights my own resources. In some ways, I don't have a lot of wealth: I don't have too, too much money left in the bank, and I work minimum wage these days, mostly. However, I know a lot of great and generous people, and that social wealth is not to be underestimated. Moreover, it is entirely tax free.

I like this rising aesthetic also because of what it signifies: our wedding is not going to be traditional, and it is going to arise out of the sweat and creativity of those closest to us. (And some helpful strangers.) Similarly, our marriage is not going to be traditional, and instead of coming as a packaged deal, it will arise, slowly, messily, and organically, out of our creativity and sweat, and out of the joys and sorrows and gifts of our community, and of the strangers that also surround us.

I feel grateful about it, lately.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

13 Homes

Jotted down in an annoyingly small journal, too late at night, on Friday, March 13, 2009 by Megan Highfill.

Moving out on my own has already proved both rewarding and disappointing. Now, as I sit in my bed, I’m realizing that this is the last time I will probably call this house my home. The house itself is no big deal—houses come and go, and I’ve seen seven do as such in my lifetime. What terrifies me is that this may be the last time that my true home is the same place as my mother, father and brother. Even in college, I “came home” for Christmas and over the summer. Now, there are two separate entities: My home and what I’ve tried to start referring to as “my parent’s house, a reference that is proving to be more emotional than expected.

I’ve felt this once before—when I was driving out of Oberlin for the last time, on a cold December morning. After that morning, I would never again call Oberlin my home. It’s the feeling of never coming back as more than a visitor that really gets to me. And though I can return to “my parent’s house,” I can’t do so in the same way I’ve done for 25 years.

Perhaps this is why I cling to the artifacts of my parents and grandparents and hesitate to store anything of my own as a keepsake. Home is the people in it, the things they say, create and use. So I am faithful to every dish, every gift, and every old piece of furniture. The things that are now mine that were once my mother’s, my grandmother’s and even great-grandmother’s—they are a way for me to maintain that connection. That human emotion that molds, breaks and puts back together a home.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to create my own building blocks here. Seeing that empty space makes me expect aspects of Oberlin and Kansas to walk in the room and start constructing. Surely Leah, Matt, Rachael, David, Megan and Beth are on their way. Of course, Mama, Daddy and Tavy are right outside the door. If they aren’t there, then why am I not hightailing it back to them, back to my home?

To some, this may seem silly. Why am I so emotional about a move that takes me less than 10 miles? In my new apartment, though, my mother seems just as far away as in-Guatemala Beth Peachey.

So, I draw them close. Steal a bit of the homes we have already built together. For Rachael, I have the books and the scriptures we shared, strategically accessible on my bookshelves, complete with the Secret Life of Bees. Megan, remember those plates we made and mine said “Your mom”? Well, don’t worry—I won’t be putting your mom in the microwave. Matt, our kitchen in Oberlin, including the plastic Sesame Street cups, has been reincarnated in Mission, Kansas. David, I have an original NES hooked to my TV with your name on it. The heartfelt, thoughtful style of Leah Faleer has affected just about every aspect of my apartment, and I will sit close to the television to watch So You Think You Can Dance. Bethy, your kindness and genuineness is so much a part of me that the picture of me eating ice cream and playing Super Mario Brothers on my computer can’t explain it. Daddy, I’m pretty sure a 6-pack of beer will be christening my refrigerator very soon. Tavy, the TV is in a central location and you have your own TV tray and chair. And Mama, well, that place is a glowing representation of how well I was raised. A girl couldn’t ask for a better mother.

There are touches of others, here and there, of course. And a rice cooker large enough with rice enough to serve this 10+ person family. In 2009, on March 13, I brought the total number places I’ve lived, including college, to 13. I hope to make this one as awesome as the first 12.

Thank you for my homes.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Clarence Darrow!

Today I went to a wonderful event, namely the Clarence Darrow Memorial Celebration at the Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge.

Yes, it had a retired alderman with a wheelchair and a megaphone. Yes, it had haphazard throwing of flowers into the lagoon behind the Museum of Science and Industry. Yes, it had invocations which were not prayers, because prayers would be inappropriate at the Clarence Darrow Memorial Celebration. (All of these, especially the last two, made me wish my Ritual Studies professor was there.)

It also had this story:

Apparently, one time Clarence Darrow was hanging out with some spiritualists. (At this point, you might be thinking that I should be posting this to the Spurious Facts About Long-Dead Famous People blog, but the retired alderman with the megaphone said it, so I believe it.) He told them that he didn't believe in their spiritualism, but in case it was true, he would show up on the bridge behind the museum at ten'o'clock in the morning on his birthday.

And so now, and for the past fifty years, a small but formidable crowd has shown up, at that time and location, to remember Clarence Darrow and to celebrate his life and work.

And to see if he shows up.

It was bizarrely similar to an Easter-sunrise service, and the invocation used a formula that I've heard at those services. ("We're gathered to remember, but also to think about the future...)

This post doesn't have much of a point other than to celebrate this lovely and localist little observation. Except this:

Last night, in preparation for attending today's celebration, I read Darrow's wikipedia page. You should too, he's a cool and interesting guy, and it is his birthday.

Then I read William Jennings Bryant's Wikipedia page.

And I felt oddly sad. Because, like: all these early Christian opponents of Darwinism were largely objecting on social justice grounds. Darwinism must be opposed, yes because it's against the Bible, sure, but MOSTLY because it justifies the strong oppressing the weak. Bryan, and many others like him, opposed teaching human evolution in order to guard against teaching social Darwinism. I think this is fascinating, and I mark it as a place where American evangelicalism kind of lost its way. I don't hear much about this critique in contemporary Creationist arguments. (Now, granted, I haven't been to the museum...)

When you read their Wikipedia pages, at least, Darrow and Jennings both seem like heroes to me. And it's sad to think of them as opponents.

Maybe they are friends in heaven, and if I am to believe what I say about the dead, then they work together with us in the struggle, both of them, different as they are.

And maybe the meet at the bridge and hang out, when nobody else is around. And admire the flowers that we dropped in the lagoon.