It was the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly. I was awarded Final Fellowship at long last. I did not want to go, did not want to participate, did not want to send in a photo. The more rambunctious of my pals and kin had other plans. So we went. In a caravan.
The back of my vehicle said: UU GAsm - Did I win a prize? Imagine this: I did not write that.
I packed gift bags, food, boas, Mardi Gras beads, clothes for the kids, meds for our boarder, videos, books, robe... and a suitcase that did not make the trip. We arrive and I have no make-up, no hair fixins, no jewelry.
When did I become a woman who needed such things? Somewhere on the drive down.
So I hobbled across a highway to a Cottage of Hair Fashions. Real name. I believe it had a sub-title along the lines of "Lady T's Blessed Aesthetic Academy." I don't make these things up.
Step 2 Twirl. Spritz. Twirl. I got black hairstyled. Yes. The stylist was really happy because of the challenge.
Me: Just some curls, please.
Her: Nobody wants curls anymore. I don't have an iron, baby.
Me: Well, what are those tuning forks for?
Her: They aren't for real hair, honey. They will burn your soft locks up.
As it was, the straightening iron she tricked into becoming a curling iron caused a puff of smoke every time it touched my hair. I couldn't smell anything burning but it is Sunday and I still don't have a single curl in my naturally curly hair.
As she gave my follicles her all we discussed genetics as far as what color your babies pop out as. Her stories were better than mine. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Speckled coffee. Tan. Brown hair, black hair, orange hair.
All I had to contribute was, Pink and Milky pink.
My hair was not particularly up for the challenge but let me just say this: I don't know what is going on with the direction of Unitarian Universalist governance these days, but their diversity initiative seems to have failed. Yeah, there were people of color, but I was the only person I could find who had black hairspray on.
Yes, it is different. Smells better, probably better for the environment. Makes white girl hair look way different.
Step 3: Shimmy, shimmy cocoa puff. My friends and family look awesome in feathers, beads, and bright colors.
If you don't include my family, I have known the people who accompanied me for this adventure for 165 combined years. Several have known me since I was short and stick thin. I know their kids, their co-workers, their relatives, as well as their questions about politics and black hairspray. I would not have done this trip without them and I would have regretted it.
Step 4: Suggestive Vamping
On the ride home the back window read, Preach Naked. Again - this was not of my doing. I think we drove through Lynchburg like that. I fell asleep as a protective mechanism.
Step 5: The Wedding March
A woman with whom I went to college asked me to do her wedding. She and I have run into each other a dozen times over the past two decades. Neither of us has changed much. Originally we met at a college dance. She was wearing orange and shiny. I was wearing blue and shiny. There was a magnetic force in all that metallic taffeta. Or maybe it was the white hairspray.
This weekend we met at the top of the aisle in her friends' backyard. She was wearing cappuccino shiny. I was wearing black and green shiny. There was a very sweet man staring at her and grinning ear to ear. I asked him if he might want to marry her. He enthusiastically agreed.
It was a great UU wedding. Their tribe of friends provided the chairs, the cakes, the toasts, the music, the heckling, the food. No one was sweating about the wrong things. We were laid back, smiled often, and talked about art, philosophy, the environment, and icing. Good UU crowd, many of them familiar because of years of ministry in the Commonwealth of my birth. Combined knowing years, probably 80-100.
Step 6: Grab your partner and do-si-do. Slip past the devil and away you go!
I preached in Williamsburg at a UU congregation with which I have a 20+ year relationship and combined knowing years of the the many old friends in the room is at least a couple of centuries. When I preach there people give me knowing smiles, and I actually know what they are smiling about. I am not a fan of preaching but I do like them. So when I Facebooked that I wasn't feeling like preaching, one of them Facebooked me back telling me to get my sweet patookus down there.
The beautiful pianist is pregnant again and we talk about the last time we were both pregnant. She flawlessly plays Bach, some of my faves. Some founding members give me hugs and ask after my husband. My favorite gentle thorn in my side reminds me that I have not yet done ANYTHING on my other website as I had promised. And then he gently reminds me again that he will help me. Another favorite reminds me he only rolls out of bed on Sundays for my preaching.
Four of my friends who have to burn some gas to go to any UU congregation, burnt some gas and came down just to see me and hear about my topic of the day: evil. We laughed all morning.
Sigh. It is like a family reunion without the awkward blurtings and the booze.
And then one who was lost walked right up to me in her Converse sneakers and unforgettable Brit accent and nonchalantly asks, "Did you get my message, dahling? Are we going to lunch together?"
No, I did not get her message. And I had not seen her dahling self in 12 YEARS! I recognized her immediately and we picked up right where we left off: talking politics, lesbian fashion, fishing, borderline personality disorder, and food. It made me so happy. A lost friend found. I forgot to tell her about black hairspray. I think it would work great on her hair.
Step 7: Do the Frog, Sugah!
When my mentor moved away so did the frog. Then the frog showed up at my ordination. Later the frog showed up at his retirement ceremony in Maine. The frog showed up at the hospital when my first child was born. That child won't give the frog up.
The frog came to Charlotte, likes boas, and still thinks UUs are some of the most aggravating, independent, brilliant, and surprising people in the world. Just like that mentor.
Rolfe, I love you. Thank you for believing in me. There is no greater gift you can give me. The frog and I continue our adventures in ministry, our debt to you immeasurable. Save the frog some flies. Save me some bad jokes.
Love always, Me.
Insert CanCan kickline here.