“Yes. Sure. Okay. Talk to you later.”
I hang up the phone. If someone who didn’t know me had overheard this conversation, they would think I’m not a very nice person. Heck, I did know me and didn’t think I’d been a very nice person.
My sister and I had been rehashing the same irritations on and off for the better part of sixty years.
I got to thinking of the different versions of me that existed. Alice as mother, Alice as wife, as friend, as neighbor and why some of these roles brought out the best me. Or maybe it wasn’t the roles. What could it be?
I was contemplating this concept as I sat in the small Presbyterian church I attend. There were perhaps fifty of us in the congregation listening to the young, energetic guest minister. His message was funny, encouraging and infectious. Until. Until he began scolding us. He did everything but waggle his finger, cautioning us to be open-minded, kind, non-judgmental. I thought we were.
It seemed that when he viewed the congregants from the pulpit we were homogenous. From my perspective, sitting amongst these people, I knew how different we were. The woman across the aisle was in the midst of cancer treatment, the man in the choir had said goodbye last Wednesday to his son deployed overseas, my friend sitting beside me had recently, joyfully welcomed a new beloved puppy. I was here seeking peace.
One did not have to dig too deeply to imagine the best version of the man giving the sermon this Sunday. I only wished that when he looked at us he saw our best versions. I recalled the minister from the church I had attended when the children were young. He had never felt the need to urge us to be better people. He had faith in our goodness.
I had an uncle who wept for joy when I came into town and shed tears of sadness when I left. I had given up trying to convince him that I was not nearly the person he imagined me to be. Instead, I tried to live up to this romanticized version he saw.
He has since passed away, but every now and then, in certain circumstances, around certain people, that ultra-version of Alice reappears. I remember what she feels like.
Perhaps the way to my better me is to embrace my uncle’s vision.
I think I’ll call my sister now.