I always used to tell people — usually even if they didn’t ask, and mostly they didn’t — that I was giving up watermelon for Lent. I said this in the fond hope that maybe someday someone would recognize it as an allusion to Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, but so far that has not happened, and now, of course, dear readers, I have tipped you off.
I said it jokingly, but in truth, despite being a religious person, I have never been much into giving things up for Lent. My intellectual reason for this is that I am so generally depressed and down on the world that the thought of giving up one of the few things I actually enjoy for forty days sounds like a pretty good way of making a suicide pact. My more mundane reason is that I am essentially lazy and weak of will.
Some years I get ambitious and say that instead of giving up, I am going to add. I am going to read the lectionary lessons every day. I am going to read my way through the Psalms. I am going to do the daily devotions for individuals and families from the Book of Common Prayer every day, or at least every night. I am going to take on some other spiritually uplifting program. I rarely — well, really, never — succeed for very long at any of these. In high school I once decided not to go see Wayne’s World because it was Lent. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever come to actual deprivation.
This year, however, I’m trying to realize that I may need to give up my boots. These are not just any boots. They are boots I bought, at an exorbitant price, at the Fluevog store in SoHo on my New York City vacation last fall. They are boots that I told myself I deserved, because I have wanted some black boots for years and years. They are boots I deserved because I paid for them with cash, as I paid for the rest of my week-long trip to Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are boots I deserved because, dammit, I deserve some things in life, do I not?
Last Thursday, I was in Cheyenne for the Wyoming Library Association Legislative Reception, wherein we librarians invite all our state legislators to come taste our home cooking (or, in my case, a box of goodies from the Meeteetse Chocolatier) in order to tell them how wonderful our libraries are. Of course, I wore my boots. And, because I had a meeting the next morning and the state would be covering my lodging and such, I figured I’d save them money and stay in a cheap motel. I checked out on Friday morning and was sure that I’d put the boots in the trunk of my car. I visited some friends in Denver and Laramie over the next couple of days, and yesterday, when I went to unpack my car, the boots were not there. I put in to a call to the motel, where the receptionist told me that they hadn’t seen anything like that but that there was a “basement store room” that hadn’t been checked yet, and they’d let me know. I haven’t heard back yet.
I did not leave a housekeeping tip on this particular visit. I didn’t have any small bills, and I was in a hurry, and I had barely messed up a thing in the room, and it was a cheap motel, and. . . insert your favorite excuse here. I spent much of yesterday afternoon thinking that this boot incident just Served Me Right, and thinking about how people in Haiti don’t even have houses, and I jolly well don’t need to be whining about boots. Today, having investigated and found that these boots are no longer available in my size, I’ve been considering offering a reward for their return.
Normally, when you give something up for Lent, you get it back on Easter, when we bring the alleluias back into the service, and we move from the penitential cadences of Rite I back to the modern Rite II. My hopes are slim, but I suppose I may get my boots back as well. What I would really like to get, though — not get back, just get in the first place — is the ability not to care so much about so little. And that, if one can have a Lenten wish, is my wish for everyone.