Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it. —Maurice Sendak
People just don't understand these things like Maurice Sendak and I do. Biting really does mean I love you. Promise.
Well, something I've learned from camp training is that you're always supposed to begin these sort of things with saying that everybody's fine. Cause I guess when parents get a call from camp they think their child must be hurt. So, you begin each call home with, "Hi Mrs. Dillinger. This is Becca from camp. First, I want you to know that Johnny is fine..."
So, I will begin this blog with this:
Hi everyone that loves me. First of all, I'm fine. Everybody's doing great. We are all okay. Praise the Lord, right?
(Although, this would totally make for better writing if I saved the "Everybody's fine" for the end. You guys would be on the edge of your seats.)
And so we begin.
Last night, November 12th, 2010, started as any Friday night would. I spent a few hours at Barnes & Noble; I worked on homework for a while in my friend's room; some friends came over to watch a movie, although we ended up talking instead. Then, of course, we made a Taco Bell run.
Taco Bell runs are a blessed sacrament, particularly at one in the morning. This particular holy rite included:
1. Myself. You know me.
2. Peter Blankenship. Peter is a funny guy. He's always cracking jokes. Especially this one: Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says, "Do you know how to drive this thing?" Classic Peter. (Also, if you think about it, he looks like Anne Frank.)
4. Ezekiel Bandy. More commonly referred to as Zeke. Zeke has a mustache. He's a real class act. I actually don't know what that phrase means. But I'm sure he is one.
5. Jane Roommate. She's my roommate. She likes Dr. Dog.
Well. The five of us were practicing the holy rite of the late night Taco Bell run, and I hit my tire on the curb of the drive-thru and got a little worried about my tires. So Peter got out and looked at it, because all men know things about cars. I think it's in their blood. He said it was fine, but it felt weird, so I started driving extra carefully. This proved to be our saving grace (foreshadowing!).
As it was now two in the morning and our Taco Bell had not fully settled, we were still doing a little meandering. Peter wanted to show us his house, so we went with it.
Twenty minutes later, we're on the interstate, driving (carefully, you'll remember) and listening to slow jamz. Okay, that part about the slow jamz isn't true.
Regardless, we were driving, having loads of good clean college fun.
Suddenly, a car comes flying in front of us. Literally, feet in front of us. Now this, this is a dramatic moment. I braked and avoided a collision, but the car bounced off the wall and was coming at us again. I quickly swerved to the left lane, saving us from a crash, but not saving the side of my car from the flying debris.
After getting us away from that car, my brain stopped working.
Then, as if Hercules himself was in the back of the car, Peter took over like a hero. He said in the most calming voice possible, "Okay. It's okay. Becca, turn the music off and pull over. I'm calling 9-1-1."
I pulled the car to the shoulder and turned on my hazards. Peter was on the phone with the emergency operator. She was asking him so many questions, "Is the passenger bloody? Is anyone pinned?"
"I don't know, ma'am. I'm not really that close to the wreck. Do you want me to go look or something?"
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aka in the driver's seat, the slow realization of what had just happened was dawning on me. Thoughts flashed through my mind like the blue lights did in my rearview mirror. We could have died. What if we had been a millisecond closer? I think I just witnessed someone die. How did we not get hit? And something between hyperventilation and crying erupted from me.
Then, somehow, all of my friends were hugging me. Sort of. I mean, as much as you can hug someone among all of the obstacles in a car. Regardless of the degree of hug, it was a very, very comforting moment. And there's the cheese for you.
So after our beautiful moment, we emerged from the car to check if the passenger was bloodied or pinned, and to make sure she was comfortable, which I always thought you weren't supposed to do. So, we walked. We walked along the side of I65 shaking, partially from the cold, and partially from the still dawning reality of our scrape with danger.
We found the car and talked to some guys who had seen the girl. The driver of the car had fled the scene. She'd pulled herself out of the car, said, "I can't be seen here," and she'd run. There were police cars checking the Sonic parking lot for any sign of her. I couldn't believe she was able to move, much less flee the scene of an accident.
So, we were almost hit by a fugitive. Okay.
The policeman "took my statement," I suppose. That just sounds like a strange phrase to be an actual part of my life. Regardless, he got me to tell him what happened. And then he got my address. And my phone number. And my social security number, which seemed like overkill, but that's his thing. Brentwood's finest. Gotta love 'em.
We all filed back into my car with Zeke driving this time. I felt like I'd filled my successful driving quota for the night. "If you want, we can go to my house and have some hot chocolate," Peter offered. I loved the idea of hot chocolate, and everyone needed to use the restroom, so off we went.
Once at Peter's house, we discovered that he didn't have a key. To his own house. Awesome.
Okay, so we'll just call his mom? No answer.
Let's knock on the front door. No answer.
Twenty-five or so minutes later, we were ready to give up. Peter murmured, "Let me try..." and disappeared behind the house.
We kept expecting him to reappear, and when he didn't, we plunged into the dark caverns of his backyard. And, sure enough, we found him, talking to his parents through a window.
We decided it might be nicer to talk inside the house and met at the front door.
Peter's mom is a wonderful, wonderful woman. She goes to the church I've been going to, and every time after church, we talk for like fifteen minutes. She is so sweet and so caring. I just want to keep her. She's a beaut. His step-dad is really excellent, too. And they are both amazing to let us barge into their house at three in the morning and drink their hot chocolate.
So we all calmed down over a good homey conversation and headed back to campus.
I do feel like I should say that in the amount of time that I was driving, I managed to save all of our lives, and in the comparatively small amount of time that Zeke was driving, he managed to kill a baby bunny and run a red light. Makes you think twice about who you want driving your car, right?
At five AM, I got a call from the officer letting me know they found the fugitive. She was fine, but drunk. Surprise! But seriously, praise Jesus we are alright. It was a close one, I tell ya.
We got back to our rooms around five thirty, and Jane and I ended the night by watching the sunrise.
This is a picture that my friend Haley took of my hands. She’s a genius with a lens. Anyways, for a long time I’ve thought that this picture tells a story. And even though I know exactly what was going on when this picture was taken, I felt like this picture tells some bigger grander story. Like it tells the truth. But I couldn’t find it.
Tonight, I found it.
Tonight, I feel very dirty. In light of the purity of the holy One, I find myself shamefully unclean. Not only the dead in my transgressions bit of me, because, hallelujah, I am raised to walk in newness of life.
The newness of life bit of me is the dirty part.
I am supposed to be freed from futility. And yet in my striving, and sometimes in my not-so-striving to become worthy of the One, I fail.
I fail, I fall, and my hands get dirty.
Tonight, I just looked at this picture for a minute, and I saw it.
My hands are dirty. Hopelessly.
They reach out, trying to grasp, well, anything.
They are weak.
But on my finger, my Jesus has placed the sparkling and pure beauty of his love.
And though my hands get dirty, his love remains. Clean enough for my hands.
Today. Steve died. It could have been yesterday, but regardless. Steve is dead.
The pumpkin, of course.
He grew mold and just sort of smushed up, just like Rachel's plague. It was terrifying.
We buried him unceremoniously in the hall trash can.