The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

January 28, 2004

Version 28.0

Originally posted to Diary-X

Just a few days ago, I was a 27-year-old Roman Catholic. Now I’m a 28-year-old Episcopalian. Funny how life works.

John and I officially joined the ranks of the Episcopal Church on Sunday, in a very moving ceremony officiated by the bishop and attended by my in-laws. My parents didn’t come. I don’t think this was out of snobbery or disappointment or a desire to boycott the occasion; they’re just not big travelers, and they have an old poodle that deteriorates rapidly when kenneled, and there was a lot of snow. And anyway, I was simply being “received” into the church (that’s how Catholics and Orthodox who are already confirmed—I was at age 13—make the switch to Anglicanism). John was being confirmed—renewing his commitment to our faith and making the adult pledge to live a Christian life—and that’s a much bigger deal.

The bishop, a somewhat flaky yet reassuringly warm, twinkly-eyed man born in Panama, laid his hands on John’s head, while his parents and I placed our hands on his shoulders and the congregation looked on. The bishop said, “Defend, O Lord, your servant John with your heavenly grace, that he may continue yours forever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes to your everlasting kingdom.”

“Amen,” we all replied.

When John turned away, I think there were tears in his eyes. I know there were tears in mine, and his parents were bright-eyed.

When my turn came, the bishop clasped my right hand in both of his and said, “Amy, we recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you.”

“Amen,” we all replied.

And when we returned to our pew, I reflected on the year-and-a-half-long journey that led us to this day. It wasn’t easy for me to decide to leave my family’s denomination, and I imagine John felt a twinge or two as well. It's been a kind of uprooting. But I know that my faith has grown exponentially since we discovered this little Episcopal parish, and I’m proud that we did this together, for each other; that we’re adopting this as our family faith. (I don’t think you need children to be considered a family.) It’s something that we can both share in equally. It’s a place where we can both feel at home. Sunday was a happy day for us.

And then yesterday, I did the whole turning-28 thing. Unlike last year’s birthday depression, my day was actually quite pleasant, largely because I had the foresight to take it off. (I did have class at night, so it wasn’t a full holiday, but I slept until 10 a.m. and if that’s not a holiday, I don’t know what is.) I drank my coffee leisurely, without having to clutch it between my knees on the train, and I read the Travel and Perspective sections of Sunday’s paper. I talked to my mom and my grandmom. I played with the digital camera. I bonded with Moose. I watched the (heaps and heaps of) snow fall. I read Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which I love for making me literally laugh out loud. (Thanks, Al Franken, you national treasure, you!) I climbed around on the Stairmaster for awhile. I ate a chocolate doughnut. I listened to Alison Krauss. When I got home from class, I discovered that someone had placed a delicious chocolate pie, courtesy of Mrs. Smith (venerable lady of the freezer aisle), in the fridge. It was a good day.

My parents sent me a nice little birthday check, which I used to purchase a $160 coat that was 60% off. (Lord how I love January sales.) It is an exceptionally cute ski jacket, perfect for the girl who does not ski yet wants to keep warm and, of course, look cute. It is pale lime-green with a thick white stripe and dark-blue fleece lining. It has a fold-away hood and a myriad of zippered compartments. And while I’m walking Moose or grocery shopping or heading out for coffee, it protects me from the death grip of cold that has been cruelly squeezing Chicago in its fist for a few weeks now.

You know, I feel good about being 28. Is it any scarier than 27? No, not really. As my friend Jess put it, “I think it’s a good age. I feel pretty mature and as if I’m even more settled in to WHO I AM.” That’s not something I could say when I was 22 or 23, and even though back then I was partying, cheap mixed drink(s) in hand, until 2 a.m. on Saturday nights, I would trade those hedonistic days for the wisdom I have now in an instant. It’s a shame that our society doesn't view getting older as a beautiful, rich and rewarding thing. After all, in the end, aren’t we the sum of all the years we’ve lived? The more years you’ve got, the more interesting you’re going to be. And a good gin and tonic is a good gin and tonic at any age.

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