For the last few years, friends have invited our family to join them on holiday sojourns in one of the small Idaho towns built around natural hot springs. We’ve joined them eagerly each time. This year, my friends and I met an individual who was working through some difficult issues. We laughed about him later, joking that he’d imbibed more than the two shots of cognac he mentioned, but, for better or worse, he earned the distinction of my first “big personality” of the new year.
Our “conversation” is recorded below. His comments appear in italics; mine in plain text.
Hi. I’m sorry. Am I in your way? I hope you’ll excuse me; I was just praying. Then a raven flew over my head and it was you. Sit down. Tell me about you.
I am wary of non-Native Americans who reference totem animals during introductions, and I just realized why you are the only person in this pool. You’re physically blocking my exit, and it would seem rude for me to run for the opposite exit. I’m congenitally polite. That’s why I’m still here with you.
How old are you? I’m 41, and I hope I don’t look it.
You look like you used to surf. You have pale blue eyes, short brown hair, and an established tan. A fossilized tooth – large as a fist, and veined with gold and diamonds – dangles from your neck. The wind blows steam between us, obscuring your face. In my mind, I am praying that one of my larger male friends catches sight of us and rescues me from you. I curse myself for damsel-mentality.
Do you love your kids? Do you love your husband? How do you feel about your marriage?
Are you high or just an everyday creeper? I am a terrible liar. I keep my answers short and unspecific, because your sabertooth necklace could be a weapon and I don’t want to risk enraging you.
Last week, I divorced from my wife of eighteen years. She was my world. She was my Jesus, until I realized that I was Jesus… I loved my kids… You know the movie Frozen? My wife decided to divorce me after that movie came out.
Why did you just refer to your children in the past tense?
I worked so hard – like 16-, 20- hour days – and I made hundreds of millions. But she stopped seeing Jesus in me. And I stopped seeing Jesus in her.
“Yes, sometimes it is hard to see the best in people, especially the people who are closest to you.” Polite and genuine. Great.
I see Jesus in everybody. In Satanists, in atheists.
I start trembling at the mention of Satanists. I hope you don’t notice. I am beginning to worry that you will drown me while my friends chat away in other pools.
I met this one lady – she must have been eighty. You know what she told me? She said, ‘Tell a boy in fourth to sixth grade that he is great, and he will love you forever. Tell the same to a girl of the same age, and she’ll hate you.’ It’s the Mars – Venus thing. Men and women are just different. But we all have Jesus within us. I guess I got complacent.
“Complacency blossoms easily.” You nod.
I punched a guy the other day. He was an atheist and he didn’t like it that I saw Jesus in him. So he got in my face and I punched him. Punched a guy in the hot springs.
You are definitely a serial killer.
I’m just trying to do the right thing. I share my message. I have, like, 27 million Facebook followers. I see Jesus in you.
I see Jesus in you, too. Oh look, here’s my friend, Max. I hope that you find the resolution that you seek, but I have to go get my kids out of the pool. See ya!
Later that night, I wrote the Prophet a letter.
I understand you on many basic human levels. You’re going through feelings I can’t imagine or grasp, because I haven’t lived them. You don’t know me from Jesus, but I feel a little like I know you. I guess the most important thing is this: do your best to live through the pain, and trust that the universe holds alternate paths for you. I hope the new year will improve your outlook as you begin to heal.
My counselor friends tell me that going through a divorce is comparable to mourning a death, so on New Year’s Day, I ripped up the letter and set the pieces on fire. I left the ashes for the universe to reclaim.
© Julia Moris-Hartley, 2015