Friday, June 4, 2010

Bobby

The land between states reminds me of the divisions in my mind; a separation.  Indiana and Kentucky appear similar at first glance, but the Ohio River that separates the two is like a fence.  The land is gorgeous, but the surroundings contradict itself.  An old riverboat casino is parked alongside the river, a mile away from a plant that churns clouds of gray and black smoke without pause.  I decide to cut up Route 50, pass through Kentucky, into Ohio, and cut back down to Kentucky.  Ohio is the milk chocolate of a road trip.  It doesn't excite me.  My eyes don't pop like they do when I'm consuming the rich dark chocolate.  I need more to chew on.

I cross the Ohio River Bridge, and gleefully enter Kentucky again, on Highway 275.  This is a state you can sink your teeth into.

My spiritual beliefs have always been foggy, and unfinished.  A rough draft.  I pass a sign for the Creation Museum and decide I need some entertainment, and maybe a bit of religion in me.  It is, after all, a Sunday.  The Creation Museum is 70,000 square feet of religious fervor, housed in a blanket of quiet.  Everyone there is calm.  It gives me the shivers.  But I understand the awe too.  I mean, there's a giant cross to remind you that this is Christian Central.  The museum reminds me of the large, auditorium-style churches that have cropped up across the states.  I don't know what to think of them.  Is God supposed to sing and dance for us?  Should we wear tap shoes while we pray? Does God get up on stage and crack jokes?  It's a part of religion that I do not grasp.  To me, it's meant to be much quieter.

A family of three stand next to me, with a blue cooler.  They crossed the river from Ohio, for a day trip.  The man points to a painting of Jesus on the Cross, and tells his son, Bobby, who looks no older than five years, that Jesus has saved Bobby from himself.  The boy's head of brown locks tips up towards his father, eyes dark as night; widened by the shock so evident on his face.

Bobby doesn't understand: "What'd I do, Dad?"

The woman does not want to be there.  She is along for the ride, to avoid a fight.  Pretending to read the fine print under the painting, I discover that she is Jewish, but is more of a Passover Jew (like the Easter Protestant that I am).  I smile at her.  She has more in common with me, than her husband.  I am glad that Bobby has a second option to work with.  She tells Bobby that he's a good kid, and not to worry about it, then wanders off with him in tow.  The man sighs and follows behind, the blue cooler bumps along the marble tiles, clunking along.  Each clunk echoes in accord with his steps.  I watch her steps quicken, and his to match hers.  A game of chase begins, with Bobby's little feet trying to keep up.  Bobby trips over his feet and cries.  She scoops him up and the family heads for the red Exit sign.

Back in the car I notice the family picnicking on a bench next to the parking lot.  They look at ease, laughing and talking.  She rubs her hand absently over her husband's back, while he makes goofy faces at Bobby.  The tension injected in the air inside has been shelved.  I pull away from them, and wonder what it's like to teach a child religion, to teach them what to believe in.  I make a mental note to thank my parents later for showing, not telling, when I was Bobby's age.  Looking back at the museum, I can't help but hear "The Walrus and The Carpenter in my head:

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax -
Of cabbages - and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings."

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