Collaborations of Abstraction

Church Basement

Posted on: March 30, 2011

I walked into the church basement of my youth. From the painted gray cement floor to the serving kitchen in the back, it was all the same. It was set up like a group was getting ready for a pot luck. No, not quite. Something fancier.

The reason I know it was fancy is that there were flowers on every table. Not fake plants, but the real fucking thing. Orange tulips to be exact, although I was pretty sure it was well into the summer and tulips in this climate were a rare breed. Someone was spending money.

orange tulips

I know this because tulips happen to be my favorite flower. Also, I enjoy the orange ones immensely, along with yellow ones.

Suddenly I’m drawn out from outside myself and I realize I’m an adult. I’m 30 years old and I’m standing in my childhood church basement looking at my favorite flowers.

Oh, Jesus. I’m getting married.

Suddenly everyone appeared now that I had gotten the memo. My sisters both bustled around, putting everything on the tables just so. There was china and silverware.

Laura looked up at me with her soft brown eyes begging to be acknowledged and her glistening blond hair laughing all the way to the bank.

“What about this?” she asked earnestly as she adjusted some babies breath in the vase alongside the tulips.  “How does this look?”

I realized that she was asking me. 

Me. The me that had been living in an alternate reality up until this time. Me: The woman who just walked out of Santa Cruz and into my Minnesota church basement. Me: the human being.

Me. The sister who took care of her since she took her first breath. Me: the sister who called her Leidala when R’s weren’t in my vernacular. Me: the sister her eyes know.

 I shrug and turn away, hoping that I can fake Bridezilla while I get a grip on what the fuck’s going on. My shrug and turn lands me full on conversation with Heidi, my other sister.

She. She can decorate a wedding cake. She can raise more children than I can plants.

“I’m so happy … ” Heidi stops and her eyes glisten. She smiles and pats the flowers Laura so lovingly arranged.

“We’ll see you soooon,” she swoons and mischievously eyes the nursery door to the right. Both of my sisters exit up the back stairs and I hear organ music. Piano music. Trumpets. 

To some, this music means a symphony or at the very least ceremony. To me it means cousins, grandmothers, parents. 


I shake my head, and for the first time catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

Wedding. Dress.


I look to the door on my right. Someone (presumably the someone I’m going to marry) is in there.


I need a cigarette.

But in my reality I quit smoking a few years back, and I quit wearing white wedding dresses too. 

 Suddenly this seems like nothing more than a misunderstanding.

The overwhelming Oh shit feeling I had was quickly leaving me. This could be easily remedied. Suddenly I was feeling a bit perky, like maybe I could get outta here with enough time to catch the red-eye home.



I marched into that nursery prepared to do my worst. But when I saw Jeff on the other side, all I could do was tell him this:

I don’t know how we got to this point. I’m sorry you got caught up in all of this. I can’t marry you. I’m sorry.

He smiles the sweet smile he’s had since the day I first met him. The day I first adored him. My heart warms and I smile back. We hug. And I walk out that nursery door and follow my sisters up the back stairs to the ceremony already in progress.

The stairway is dark. There is no light switch. I always wondered if the church didn’t really care about their organist, if they like piano players better. Piano players didn’t need their feet. I grope for the door handle.

Light. Lots of natural light and high ceilings painting an obsecene white. Ceiling fans covered with dust. Stained glass and indoor/outdoor carpeting. My eyes squint. I breathe a smell that makes me want to forget.

But I remember.

The organist stops as I walk past her. The congregation’s attention slowly moves toward the front. They were expecting groom, not bride.

The pastor moves to get up. I sit him back down with my eyes.

My feet moves across the blue carpet, my chiffon swishes (good lord what was I thinking?). I stand behind the pulpit. And I look out at everyone’s faces below me, expectant.

So this is what the slimy fuck sees every Sunday. I make a mental note not to curse him, knowing too well the rule of threes. I raise up my hands like The High Priestess and I smile.

“I’m not getting married today,” I say. “I’m sorry you came all this way.”

I take a deep breath and it’s then I see Sante in the congregation. He’s smiling at me. I sigh and smile back.

“Now is the time for this to stop. It is done.”

The organist breaks out into jubilant postlude and the trumpeters quickly follow suit. I dance down the aisle, doing cartwheels and singing. As I approach the door, my hips jiving to the rhythm of the postlude, Napoleon stands in my way.

But he’s no match for my charm and my siren song. After all, who can resist the seduction of the truth?


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Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life



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