September 1, 2008

Roadside Rabbit

Driving from Sara’s house in Asheville to the Decatur Book Fest, I paused in Athens to pick up Mir. Once back on the road, she was telling me a very funny story and then she looked at my face and saw I had horror face.

She followed my line of sight and saw a large EX RABBIT on the side of the road. He was very very ex, most PROBABLY a rabbit although I would not say so under oath, and Mir looked back to see how my skin had paled and gone slightly green and said, "IT IS OKAY! DO NOT THROW UP! THAT RABBIT IS ...SLEEPING! HE IS SLEEPING!"

“Sleeping?” I said, in a trembling voice. As we zoomed past him, I decided this was a program of sad-and-ill-avoidance I could get behind with a strong will, so I said, decisively, “YES! He is sleeping."

She echoed, "Sleeping!" in a cheerful tone and then added under her breath, "Sleeping with his nose shoved backward through his butt."

I pretended not to hear that. POOR rabbit (or rather, poor rabbit-like former animal).

Then we got to the festival – more on that later – and met up with Karen Abbott. I was a RAGGED PIECE OF MEAN to Karen every second. I was hateful about her taste in clothes as we purse shopped. I was a snarky about who would get what room and what bed and called her a selfish turd as we checked into the hotel. I mortally insulted her parentage all through dinner. After dinner, we hooked up with Patti Callahan Henry and Daniel Wallace to have martinis at Birdi’s, and I remained completely AWFUL to Karen.

She kept saying, “WOW, WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO ME!!!”
And I would answer, “Shut up, I hate you.”
And then we would both cackle like two of Macbeth’s witches at each other and then I would say, “SHUT UP.”

This was Friday. You realize, Best Beloveds, that SUNDAY, just yesterday, was the day she and her husband packed up their furniture, rented out their Atlanta condo, and went to really and for truly and forever live in Manhattan? Well, they did, and allllll weekend, I was AWFUL to her.

Finally I said something ALMOST unforgiveable, and she said “OH WOW WHAT? Are you are actually MAD at me? I thought you were just being mean for fun?” and I smiled a facile smile and said, “. Nope. I violently hate you is all.”


Daniel Wallace said, in fake, sage tones, “It is easier to leave then to be the one left behind. Because see, Karen, the LEAVING one will make all new friends and have a fabulous time, while you, Joshilyn, will most certainly dry up and die.”

We fell out laughing and pelted him with the fruit from our cocktails and the night went on, and I was mean as a SERPENT to her and she would smile back all sparkly with every new and vicious low I sunk to, because she heard the underwords. She knows that, “I hope you die in a fire,” was actually me saying, “I do not know how I will bear it---how sad and gapped my city will be, with nothing sitting in your place.”

Posted by joshilyn at September 1, 2008 9:00 AM

The joys of subtext. We all deal with separation in our own way; I'm glad she understood yours. I hope that time will make this easier for you.

Posted by: Caryn Caldwell at September 1, 2008 10:01 AM

I remember reading in Karen's bio about her living in Manhattan and feeling sad. Not that I have ever met her or ever will, but I felt like it was a loss for Atlanta.

I'm sorry you're feeling sad about it. (((hugs)))

Posted by: Jessalyn at September 1, 2008 10:04 AM

I feel confident in asserting that you were SO BEASTLY to Karen, she is completely aware that you love her to pieces.

Posted by: Mir at September 1, 2008 10:18 AM

I'm thinking she probably understands, and loves you, and misses you abudantly so that the stars have quit shinning in Manhattan...see I was right, Manhattan-- no stars. Send her and you chocolate, call her up and eat it together.

Posted by: Cele at September 1, 2008 4:17 PM

Like Karen, I recently moved from the South to the north (but only because my husband forced me to), leaving behind my family and friends.

We've had a couple of negative experiences while searching for a church home. We first visited a Presbyterian church. The following Sunday we'd been invited to attend the Baptist church. When I mentioned this to an acquaintance from the Presbyterian church the conversation that followed shocked me.

“What am I going to do with you?” the acquaintance asked.
“Why? What did I do?” I responded.
“Associating with the Baptist? Really? I thought you were better than that,” she snorted.
“Careful, I am Baptist,” I warned.
“What? I thought you were Presbyterian?”
“No, my husband was raised Presbyterian. I was raised Baptist.”
“Wow, I thought you guys were Presbyterians.”
“Does it matter?” I asked. “We’re Christians … and we pretty much go wherever God leads us.”

I haven't heard from her since.

We visited a Baptist church the following Sunday. Our four-year-old son went forward for the children's circle for the first time. We were on the edge of our pew because you never know what will come out of his mouth. Without delving to deep into the sermon, the pastor asked the kids, "What are some things you do with your hands?" One child said clap; another said build; and then another said "eat." Preacherman raised his eyebrows and somewhat sarcastically asked, "Do you eat with your hands?"

In defense of the other child, our son said, "You can eat a chicken leg with your hands" and proceeded to demonstrate. The congregation laughed.

Pompous Pastor responded, "Well, that may be how you eat chicken down South, but up here we use a knife and fork."

The firm grip of my husband's giant hand was the only thing keeping me in that pew!

I want my JOSHILYN'S back! I'm still in the pity muds!

Posted by: Louisianablues at September 1, 2008 5:09 PM

When I am sad I would ALWAYS rather people be mean to me. :)

Posted by: Roxanne at September 1, 2008 7:22 PM

Oh dear, I know this one from both sides and from a dozen different variations. It is so much harder to be the one left behind! I have nothing but big big hugs for you Joshilyn. And as for you Karen, I have nothing to say to you but "Phhhhbbbbt!" (Hope that helps)

Posted by: Laume at September 2, 2008 3:45 AM

Gulp, sniffle - you did not warn of the sadness.
I am sure Karen will miss you too, the snarkiness of Manhattan rarely contains such caring at its core. You may find yourself called up and called upon to deliver such heart-sore gripes, grouses and insults whenever homesickness strikes.

Posted by: Rompompom at September 2, 2008 7:27 AM

Good Lord, Joss, I can hear the realtors in your area cackling from all the way over here in Birmingham as your loyal stalkers rush to move to Georgia (plants For Sale sign in own yard).

Posted by: Elena at September 2, 2008 8:20 AM

Oh, Joss. I'm so sorry Karen viciously up and left you! Yes, it's supposed to be easier on the leaver, but it hurts from both sides (having been the leaver most recently). You're a pretty tulip and I hope you know Karen still loves you, even if she's a terrible horrible no good very bad person for leaving you!

(Good luck in NYC, Karen!)

@Louisianablues: What a pompous a&&!!! I do hope you let him know why you will not be joining his congregations. What a bigot!

Posted by: Beth at September 2, 2008 11:42 AM

Funny you should mention road kill denial... My husband does this for me ALL THE TIME. Just last night we were driving home, and saw a... lump that did not look at all like my favorite kitty in the whole world, and I know this because he hastened to reassure me that it was only a paper bag. Not even remotely kitty-related. Honest.

Posted by: Alix R at September 2, 2008 11:57 AM

Very sad. So sorry, Joss. I won't even let on about the tiny little of dance of happiness I'm doing internally b/c Karen Abbott will make NYC a better place (all by herself!).
Sincerely though, that sucks. Would you like one slightly used Native NYer who wants to be Suthin in a trade?

Posted by: Elizabeth J at September 2, 2008 12:53 PM

Louisianablues - hmph! clearly, you need to move on to the congregationalists (frequently home to couples with mixed marriages!). So sorry that you got a bad experience in TWO churches, but I assure you that many northern folk ARE very nice (even Presbyterians - I know because I am one, so I've met lots), AND can act Christian at church, too.

Nasty pastor: there is long and distinguished history of eating poultry legs with ones' hands, but there's also the chip & dip (fork THAT!), and, in America, we mostly eat fruit with our hands (although Europeans look upon this with some distress). Also, ice cream cones, candy bars, etc., etc. And it's just rude to put down a child that volunteers things (unless they're REALLY smart-alecky, and probably even then).

I've frequently been the leaver (for job reasons), and while I am occasionally lonely in my new place, the busy-ness and distraction of relocation do keep the sads to a minimum.

So sorry about Karen, but can you look upon this as a silver lining on otherwise exhausting book tours that head to Manhattan?

Posted by: Diane (TT) at September 2, 2008 1:24 PM

Thanks for your support and encouragement! I'm climbing out of the pity muds, having met some really nice people at the beach, park and miniature golf course over the past few days (my son and I can cover ALOTTA ground).

Hurricane season makes it a little easier to NOT miss Louisiana, though still praying for everyone there and those along the southeastern coast now!

Joshilyn, I know Karen will miss you IMMENSELY ... and vise versa.

Posted by: Louisianablues at September 3, 2008 7:58 AM

I remember a lot more tears and a lot less meanness when I left come you were so easy on Karen?? Maybe because I couldn't stop leaking at the eyeballs myself...

And Louisianablues, that preacher would've got told where to stick his Yankee church if I had been there. Kudos on your self-control!

Posted by: Amy-Go at September 4, 2008 10:27 AM

Thanks Amy-Go!! I didn't confront him at church because when I'm that MAD and I get going, I'm hard to stop. I wrote him a letter ... then edited for sarcasm OVER AND OVER AGAIN. And though I was very tactful, my head nearly exploded when he said he was sorry I was offended, he was "merely pointing out a cultural difference between the north and SOUTH." The volleying back and forth via email only infuriated me more, and I'm considering attending his church every Sunday and sitting on the front row. What do you think?

Posted by: Louisianablues at September 5, 2008 8:33 AM

I've lived in CT all my life, Louisianablues, and don't know ANYBODY, EVER EVER EVER, who has tried to eat a chicken leg with a knife and fork. So it's not a North/South cultural difference, just a normal people/bigoted snob cultural difference.

Sorry, Joshilyn, I know this is supposed to be about YOU and I allowed myself to become distracted. By the way, my MIL always told my husband, when he was young, that they were all "sleeping" as well.

Posted by: Brigitte at September 6, 2008 7:42 AM

Thank you, thank you two-fold Brigitte! For making me feel better and for refocusing me on the reason I came to this blog in the first place - JOSHILYN ... who I absolutely don't want to distract from drafting, editing or doing anything that will get that next book into my anxious little hands straight away!

Posted by: Louisianablues at September 6, 2008 5:26 PM