I am fairly certain that you know all of my thoughts - probably before I think them. It should come as no surprise to you, then, that on this evening of making an offer on our first house, I've got one particular poem stuck in my head.
I was sitting on the porch, as you know, praying - praying for peace. I asked for the kind of peace which would allow my husband and I to handle either a rejection or an acceptance of our offer. And, what do you know (hopefully, a lot), but a flitting line of poetry began to twine itself in the folds of my brain,
"And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow..."
Yes God, it's me, Alice - the girl who dreams in greens and rain and the smell of stone and in the language of Ben Bulben. You know me; when I don't know what to say, what to think, I speak in Yeats.
Back to the praying bit. So here I was, Lord, praying in Yeats, and I thought of what it might mean to have a permanent home. I'm sure you remember what I was like as a teenager - a bit of a mess, I'm afraid, but with a terribly romantic idea of purchasing a one way plane ticket, a motor bike, and glibly riding up and down the coasts of Ireland for the rest of my life. Ireland was the closest place to home I had ever felt, and in my dramatic teenaged way I wanted to stay there forever.
It was home - and perhaps I was melodramatic, too rash in falling in love with a far away fairy tale land, but it was, it really was, home.
Now, you know how the story goes, God. You know what my life was like when I forsook my childhood dream and met the love of my life at university. You know he is and always will be a pretty great guy, and that I endeavor, every day, to be worthy of him. You know that, in meeting my husband, I found a home more permanent, more enduring, and (thankfully) a bit less dramatic than my dream of Ireland.
So why the Yeats? Well, God, I think you know. But let me work this out for a moment.
When I think about that poem, I think of a man who had that image of home in his heart. He longs for it, absolutely - he writes that when being in the city, outside of nature and that little island in Sligo, he feels his home calling. And his writing encapsulates the scene of Innisfree; he holds it in a bubble of never-changing by putting it into words. Through poetry, he creates two isles: the physical, and the conceptual. Both are real, both have merit, both are home.
I know, Lord, you're probably sitting up there on a cloud wondering how you ever created a girl who could talk so much. Sometimes, I wonder that too. The act of praying can be quite the marathon event in the Alice household.
Peace and home, that's what I'm trying to figure out. That's why I'm praying. I've got a lot of homes, in a way - a Mom and Dad's house, a Stepmom's house, a Dad and partner's house, a Grandmere's house, a G and Alice's house. And I have had a lot of peace, too - not only recently with G, but also with my Grandpere, when he drove through Baltimore, painfully slow, just to watch the world go by; with my cockatiel, Rembrandt, when he sang his warbles to my shiny silver braces; with my grandparents, S&J, who made me rethink just about everything, from theatre to happiness to life, fully lived.
Peace and home - now that I think about it, you're doing a pretty good job, God. Keep it up. So what am I praying about (I hear You ask Yourself as You have way bigger fish to fry)?
There may just be a little part of me, the little Yeats-speaking part, which holds a home in her heart, trapped in time, beautiful but untouchable.
You know, God, when people are upset - how they say things or beg things of you which don't make much sense? Asking for things that could never happen, regaining the light of lives lost, finding a set of car keys that we should know darn well where we put them? Well, as you know, when I'm really upset and lonely I think, "I want to go home."
I've worn myself out asking for it, and I bet I've worn you out by not finding it. And tonight - a night I would have ordinarily ended by asking for that home - I started this long, misbegotten prayer, and I prayed for peace, instead.
I could almost see you smile. (You don't have to look so smug, though.)
In praying for peace, I saw my home, and it was me.
It was a ridiculous a-ha moment, to be sure. Yeats's words settled into me a bit more deeply - he was his home, too, because he lived it and wrote about it and loved it. Yeah, the longing is still there - but there is a permanence, something almost tangible, in committing that love to paper. Maybe I'm trying to do that now. Maybe that's what I've been trying to do for quite some time.
Sometimes I want to shake my fist at you, Lord, and make some particularly nasty comments about your mother (sorry, Mary). It all seems too hard, just too, too difficult, when you throw all this stuff in my way like death and money and morality and all the other bits and bobs of being human. It can really suck, God, and sometimes you seem like a jerk. And, don't get me wrong - we are not on the best terms forever. But today you gave me a little something.
If I'm not talking to the air. Which would be embarrassing.
But anyway, God, I'm trying to bring this prayer to a humble finish. G and I made an offer on a house tonight, and it is scary. We don't know if it will be accepted. We don't know if the house inspection would show a lot of needed repairs and fixes. We don't even really know which would be preferable - acceptance or refusal. But what I'm asking for, here, is just a few more moments of peace, in which I can look into myself and see home -
Grandmere, Grandpere; Mom, Richard; Todette, Rembrandt; Dad, Jenn; G, me.
Baltimore, Columbia, Sligo, Cork.
An apartment, a house.
The permanence of Innisfree.
Thanks for listening, God. You'll probably hear from me tomorrow.