If Anne Lamott Were My Godmother


Literology / Sunday, January 18th, 2015

In the parallel universe where there exists a Catholic me with a godmother, I call Anne Lamott.

Whenever I finish an Anne Lamott book, I feel like our tin-can telephone string has just been pulled taut again, and our houses, never more than yards apart, are somehow dually warmed, root to rafter, by just our words.

My Jonathan gets pseudo-angry when I read Annie. I kind of moan amens as I go, laugh out loud a little, grunt preach from my pew. Again, it’s like that line’s pulled taut, so who’s to say she can’t hear me? Who’s to say she doesn’t know I’m here in Florida feeling all kindred about her?LamottLamott 2 Lamott 3

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When I think of godmother situations, I think of freak airplane crashes, fires, and people stranded on those little inflatable boats that last maybe a day or two in the best conditions, which of course, you cannot have if your real boat has just be compromised.

When I think of godmothers, I think of them swooping in. In the parallel universe where I understand football metaphors (this universe sits adjacent to the one wherein there is a Catholic me with Anne Lamott for a godmother), I’d say she’s the Hail Mary Pass of People—the one who comes in, near-extinct eagle style and saves me from ravenous serpents or something dragon-esque and fire-breathing.

When I think of godmother situations, I think of belated birthday cards and random book gifts dropped into the mail which you uncover days later on the dining room table, a veritable chicken noodle soup just lying there in paper packaging, something that means to woo you back to life when you’ve nearly given up all your ghosts.

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A few things have been incredibly hard to bear lately—one a significant, sharp life-pain that came and went and left us reeling and without any of the proper tools and another is a virus which is analogous to the petty theft of health but which, when passed around a family of five, will leave you inwardly wrecked and sure you’ve been robbed every day another fever spikes.

It’s hard to say which is worse between the two—the quick hard thing that wants to kill but works like an isolated explosion or the unraveling, cancer-y chaos that bruises slowly and erodes surely. And I guess it doesn’t really matter which is worse. What matters is how we end up on the other side and whether we all got out unscathed—or unscathed enough.

These are the days when I could use an Anne Lamott godmother to give me an objective-enough reality check about how things are truly going. I imagine her saying…

Look at you. You’ve had three kids, and you’ve kept them all underfoot and yet uncrushed. This is noteworthy. This is big.

Look at you. Despite the fact that you’re an anxious mess of a person, you have never driven off of or into anything.

Look at you. You eat occasional vegetables. There was a girl who lived on only chicken nuggets until she collapsed at seventeen. You won’t be her. Go, you.

 Look at you. You have relegated all the craft stuff to the laundry room—the crocheting, the scrapbooking, the sewing, the beading, the baskets of glues and glue-like adhesive accessories. It doesn’t matter that it’s all about to cave in. Don’t think about that. The point is, if it does, the deluge will be restricted to one room now. It’ll happen quick like a mushroom cloud. The neighbors will hardly even know.

 Look at you. You could be heavier.

 Look at you. Celebrate the way your heart breaks. It would be a pity if it didn’t, don’t you think?

 Whenever you start to hate what is, just think of what is not, and be grateful for the place you’ve been planted, for the people planted with you, and for all the growing in store for you both.

 In the process of moving boxes from Room 1 to Room 2 this week, I found more thank you cards—beautifully and completely written thank you cards in addressed envelopes which were for Christmas gifts from 2013. There were cards from Atticus, handwritten ones from Daina, handprint ones from Evangeline. So many undelivered thank you’s—just boxed up and going nowhere.

 If this isn’t a metaphor for the massive let down that is me most days, I don’t know what is. I just put them into the trash as quickly and quietly as I could manage.

It’s finds like these around every corner of my house that make me homesick for a godmother to push my hair out of my face between fevers and say, “Nothing’s really unsent in the world. Nothing’s really unsaid. The kind of people who would send you a gift are not the kind of people hanging an unmailed letter over your head. Trust me, of all the things, this is perhaps your most forgivable. It’s okay. Get some rest. You are enough today.”

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