I sit in the back pew of St. Michael’s, counting the few short hours to my AP Government test and struggling to hide my copy of the United States Constitution behind a bible.
The congregation sings out, imploring me to note the look in Jesus’ eyes as he died on the cross but all I can do is make notes in pink marker on my Gov booklet. Article I: Freedom of Speech, example: I hate the College Board with a fiery passion and I’m allowed to say so because James Madison said I could. Rows of churchgoers flare like hips and I’m afraid to be caught out as an unintentional amalgamator of church and state. It feels almost dangerous to hold the Constitution in a sacred place, as if challenging the establishment, as if daring it to question me, government student extraordinaire! Ha! As if it has a chance against my flashcards and me! Article II: Right to Bear Arms, example: Bearing arms, constitutional, arming bears, probably not but need to double-check.
It’s not that I don’t care what the priest with a monotone voice and Dorothy Hamill haircut has to say, I’m sure it’s super interesting, but the spring of junior year is falling on me like a hot pile of garbage and it’s often difficult to keep up. It’s like I’m sitting in the sun under a rabbit fur coat, melting like one of Dali’s puddle clocks. I’d rather be anywhere but in church or in my private study hall state. I’d even be content to stare at my tennis shoes idly, watching them swing like comets with Milky Way shoelaces, because my feet never touch the ground but there’s too much to do. I’d like to sail away somewhere on a purple ship to a place where people fall in love at least seven times a day, some island where everyone wears crowns of eagle feathers and jewelry made out of teeth, maybe someplace where there’s no Constitution or religion to Article III: No Quartering Soldiers, example: Yeah, this isn’t really a thing anymore but I’m not a big fan of sharing my room so, if it was, they’d be in the living room on the saggy air mattress that sounds like a spaceship exploding when we inflate it.
I must be getting dizzy and delirious from switching between the Bill of Rights and the Gospel according to John so quickly. Laws and commandments guide whomever they’re supposed to guide. I could probably use some kind of guidance right now, actually. I’m sinking and pulpy like a paper anchor. I’m sitting on a nest of hot white eggs, waiting for them to hatch, waiting for the fruits of my labor to peer around and cry because it’s finally summer. I’m looking for something to hold on to, maybe a doctrine, scripture, amendment, maybe a footnote, gospel, article. Right now, I can fold up the Constitution and use it as a bookmark in the Bible, carrying it around like the pound of messy matter that it is, which blurs in and out of focus. I can get down to business and touch my toes back to the ground. There’s always an extremely tempting urge to jump into one of those clock puddles and spread time all over the ground to disperse it a bit but, knowing me, I don’t think that compulsion will ever change.