Love in the Time of Corona, Part 16 “The Unfound Egg”

I remember one time, when I was little, I found an Easter egg that the hider had hidden in the top aluminum tube on our swing set, the one that the two small white plastic swings and two-seater glider were attached to. The swing set by this time was older, I think actually I might have gotten it for my third or fourth birthday. By the time of the egg finding (I might have been ten by then), Dad had painted over the whole swing set with leftover paint from when we’d painted the house so instead of the factory paint design, it now was a uniform light green except that apparently exterior latex behaves differently on aluminum in the wildly fluctuating Alabama weather so the whole apparatus was now coated with a white chalky finish that, if you swung around on it with your hands, they’d come off with that same white chalk and it would be there until you went inside to wash them with soap and water. I was amazed to find the egg there now looking back I can’t imagine why I climbed up onto the crossbar and crawled up to take a peak down the pipe. It as August after all, not Easter. Perhaps I was looking for birds’ nests as I often did. I’ve always been a curious person. But there it was, the Easter egg, Malibu Blue if memory serves. Actually when I found it I had the same feeling of elation one might have finding one on Easter Sunday but soon thereafter I was awash with disappointment because its value seemed to have dropped exponentially. I decided to shell and eat it but as soon as I cracked the shell, all of the air in the surrounding quarter mile turned malignant and green, foggy, deadly. “Ew, run away!” I told my little brother Chad who’d been singing and swinging on one of the small white plastic seats. Each seat had dime-sized holes in it and each hole had a white six-legged asterisk in it. We did, run that is, until we got a sufficient distance from the malodorous grenade; we both stood there looking back toward the swing set as if we were waiting for it to do something. When I figured out there was going to be no explosion I told Chad, “Stay here” and I went to get the biggest leaf I could find to use as a hazmat potholder to grab the thing and hurl it as far as I could into the pines. Many years later I would identify with the errant egg. I now know what it’s like to have been considered a treasure by someone who later threw me away finding me repugnant. 

The Easter baskets stayed in the top of Mom’s closet until the remodel happened in 1977 and then they were moved to the closet in Dad’s study. I guess I rarely saw them when they were in Mom’s closet and perhaps they lost some of their magic when they moved. I saw them more often then when I’d go to that closet for a particular coat or jacket. 1977 is also the year an adult had sex with me so life changed on a lot of fronts. I must have asked Mom at some point along the way why, if the Easter Bunny brought them, they were, for the rest of the year, in the top of the closet where their high school sweaters and jackets hung. Thereafter we put them out, empty on Easter Eve. I don’t even think that’s a real thing but my mother did the best she could to let me have a normal childhood with an abnormally inquisitive brain. I loved the Easter basket as they’d appeared on our doorstep all those years but I loved even more the time my mother and I spent in the kitchen the night before Easter dying eggs after the “fib” had been cashed in on a ritual. I can still see her delicate fingers wielding that little copper wire tool, a circle with a handle used for dipping the eggs in the dye. I loved the smell of the vinegar. I loved the beautiful, uniform color of the freshly dyed eggs. The Paas box had punch-out holes so that you could dry them there but mother knew that might possibly interrupt the uniformity of the color so she would hold them up and blow on them until they were dry. My mother knocked it out of the park on the mothering stuff.

I looked forward to Easter for many reasons but one was that we got new clothes. We’d go to town and shop at “The Kiddie Shop” for clothes and we’d go to Ivey’s or Tatum’s to shop for shoes. These stores were operated by the few Jewish families that lived in Jasper, Alabama way back then. To me they just seemed like attentive and friendly store owners but looking back now I wonder what it was like for them trying to live and work and worship in a place where there were so many who wanted them dead. People frequently used the term “jewing” someone down on the price and it wasn’t until I was in college and used it—

“Jesus Christ, Jeff, I would have never pinned you for an anti-Semite!” 
“What? I’m not!” 
And then they spelled it out for me and I did the math and never said that again.

So with the help of the Jews and sometimes JC Penny and Buster Brown and whatever the Kiddie Store had on sale, I’d show up at Hatt Church of Christ to have my picture made, one year older, in front of at least the last two generations of my family. 

And we’d go inside and pray for the wellbeing of everyone living on Earth. 

I know there are a lot of people who’ve been hurt by religion; I’m one of them but know that I used to worship with a bunch of people who were doing their best and participating in a faith that gave them courage to go on.

Tonight, I pray for those who have hurt me and continue to hurt me.

I pray for the soul of Donald Trump. Nothing would please me more than his repentance.

I’m choosing now to use my energy toward building whatever we’re going to build out of this rubble and to not focus so much on the tug-of-war.

What you feed, grows. Choose wisely.

Anybody interested in resurrecting with me?

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