Religious occasions have a way of bringing certain concepts to the forefront of my thoughts: the concepts of family, home, and belonging. Perhaps it is because I grew up in a mostly religious family, and there were many religious institutions during my childhood. I was not fond of religion back then. I liked the peripherals. I liked the candles and the stained-glass windows. I liked the Latin and the high ceilings. I liked the church organs and the choirs. I liked how it united family under a single roof.
I went to mass today. Palm Sunday reminds me of times gone by, of walking in circles around the church and bearing aloft fronds of palm or coconut under the bright summer sunshine, back when I had been young and curious, and reading about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, instead of worrying about the immediate problems that awaited him.
I think it has been nearly a decade since the last time I went to mass on Palm Sunday. I was not inspired by religion today. I just wanted to belong, as I did back then too, even if I had been too young to understand my needs. I tried and failed, today, and then. I walked away half through the mass, just as I had walked away from family and love back many years ago. If leaving is an art, I am becoming better at it. I find it frightening as I look back on all the places and people I have dragged myself away from, despite deep bonds of affection. Why? I wonder so, and I wonder often. I have had little difficulty in making friendships, in trying to build a home wherever I went, in making sure that those I held dear had no compunctions about approaching me in their times of difficulty. My difficulties have always come out of my restlessness in company, spurred by my growing dissatisfaction with the status quo in my life.
There have been times when I did not want to leave, when leaving took more effort than staying. I remember the first time I slept on sleeping bags and ate jackfruit shrimp. I remember being sprawled with an iced tea under Elisabeth’s beech trees, and watching little Rachel play with the dogs, and listening to Sibelius sing along with Pearl Jam. He threw acorns at me when I corrected his awful lyrics. I remember living in my grandparents’ home, and watching them try to outdo each other in decorating the home for Christmas. I remember being seated on that old bow-seat, watching the rain, and the hyacinth coming to me with words that I had not understood that I had wanted to hear before. I remember my brother’s den of hoarded objects, which I had to enter ever so often to retrieve my belongings, in which it was easier to stay because it had all that I owned plus his wonderful company. I remember eating clams at Cape Cod, and loving New England so dearly despite Sibelius painting dreary, bleak pictures of winter. I remember watching my mother garden, shutting out the world, taking pride in her roses and cactuses.
Leaving is draining. More draining, though, is the return. As I drove back from the mass I did not attend in full, I wondered why I had tried to return. Nostalgia for my past, a wanting to revive memories and feelings of old, a fear that I will always be displaced, and wandering, leaving behind places and people loved, a desire to escape the present and the questions about my future. I had not realised how stressful returning and finding nothing the same can be.
I used to fast for the Lent season. Most of my family gave up their carnivorous ways for the season. Since I had no meat to give up, I used to fast. I cannot recall the initial logic and I am fairly sure it was rooted in the Catholic system of self-denial, but I liked the sharpness of focus fasting brought about, and I stuck with it for years, every Lent season.
I am glad to have gone today, all said and done. The city was beautiful and the cathedral well-decorated. The choir and the music was a treat. I had breakfast in the Italian Quarter with an old friend, in a little cafe, outside in the spring sunshine, and the white wicker chairs gleamed in the morning light. The Marina was bustling with white yachts and the sea breeze put me in a splendid mood.
“Easter mass?” my friend asked.
I declined. I think I will find something else to do next Sunday.
Two of my previous interns have become full-time hires at my previous employer, and I was very touched when they thanked me for fighting to get them sane job offers. I really dislike it when companies try to hire interns full-time under market rates.
No interns for me this year. Working with interns used to be my joy during the summer term. They come from their universities, bright and full of ideas, brimming with life and confidence, and they are a delight to work with. There have been a couple of shake-ups in the upper realms of the management chain, and there is still some uncertainty as to the new direction. We will have to see. At least, I am still faring better than my poor friend across at the fancy electric car-maker, what with his eight managers in two years. It is a mad world here.
Everyone is still talking about Uber, though now it is about the Waymo lawsuit instead of the Fowler allegations. I guess IP is more important right now than the harassment. It is hard to stay positive and upbeat about any of it, about all of it, but it is foolish to be otherwise, and for what it is worth, that is one company which is likely to go down very soon for one reason if not for the others.
Thinking about taking a week off to get a break. I am not sure if I ought to do it in May or June.
The IRS finally decided to process my tax returns. This is the longest it has taken them. I had started to be concerned, fearing that I had made mistakes on the documents. Normally, it is the California tax processing that takes a few months. They had a fast turnaround this time. I guess being out of the drought has put them all in a brisk, happy, productive mood.
Still adamantly sticking to my policy of not reading news or browsing on social media. I do dislike it when other people bring up news events, but I guess it wouldn’t do to be completely uninformed. The Valley dictates that I be a well-rounded, high-achieving ninja who is detail-oriented, full-stack, and can discuss progressive, liberal ideas in the context of the global socio-political current events. I am getting there. I might even start shopping at Whole Foods soon.