Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bookfield, No Room at the Inn

When all of our leads dried up, we decided to follow another company teaching and seek lodging for the night at a church. We could see church steeples not far away and walked towards them. We stood outside the biggest, showiest, church we could find, the Prince Avenue Baptist Church, trying to get up the nerve to ask the pastor for a place to stay. I felt like we were begging, but resisted the temptation to ask Mary for her thoughts. While we were standing there, a service let out. Well-to-do looking people streamed around, not noticing us. But, two college girls focused right in on us. They came over an introduced themselves. “Hi, I’m Jessica and this is Carolyn.” They spoke in a perky, flirtatious, high pitched southern drawl that seemed to come from the back of their throats.

“Hi, I’m Mary and this is Sue.”

“We stopped because you guys look lost.” Jessica said. They both giggled.

“I guess in a way we are.” Mary said. “We are in Athens for the summer to sell Bible books and we just got into town last night. Seems like we haven’t found a place to stay yet.” Mary was better suited for handling these people than I was with my Yankee accent.

“No place to stay for the night? That’s terrible! You can stay with us in our dormitory! We go to the University and the semester is over and there are lots of empty rooms. Let’s go tell Mommy and Daddy.” With that, they ran off toward two older couples standing further up the church walkway. We stood there not knowing what to do. The girls spoke with their parents briefly. The parents eyed Mary and me suspiciously. In no time the girls ran back to where we stood. “Y’all are so cute, like lost sheep; we just want to adopt you!” They said. “Mommy and Daddy think we’re crazy, but we don’t care, so you’re coming with us.” I didn’t know what to say, except thank you. The girls’ parents loaded us and all of our stuff into their cars and drove us to the dormitory. Jessica and Carolyn chatted on and made us feel so welcome.

It was comforting and familiar to be in a college dorm. Jessica and Carolyn insisted on fussing over us. To our surprise, they prepared a traditional southern dinner for us that night. They took great joy in being the first to introduce us to southern fare. We sat on the floor of their dorm room as they opened the containers brought from one of their parents’ homes. There was southern fried chicken, black eyed peas, and greens. The fried chicken was succulent and crispy with a perfect amount of seasoning. The black eyed beans, which I had never even seen before, were completely unlike the any beans I was used to. They had a subtle bean taste with hints of salted butter. The collard greens were chopped and blanched and topped with bacon grease. That home cooked meal really satisfied more than just my appetite that night. It’s got to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Jessica and Carolyn were so pleasant and optimistic that they breathed hope into me. They also told us that the Prince Baptist Church had free prayer breakfasts at 7:00 AM on Thursday mornings, and they would love for us to come. I wasn’t really that interested, but Mary responded with enthusiasm.

Thursday seemed awfully far away to me.

Jessica and Carolyn had brought extra sheets and blankets from home so that Mary and I would not have to sleep on bare mattresses in the unoccupied dorm rooms. They really took joy in adopting us and seeing to all of our needs. If there was such a thing as a true Christian spirit, they had it. In the morning, we thanked them profusely and I was sorry to leave them and the campus setting that reminded me of a more predictable time at school when ahead was only the unknown.


Rick Bettencourt said...

From one gay man...keep up the interesting work.

Bandit Talks

Sue said...

Thanks for your comment; it means a lot coming from another Virgo who writes. FYI - I post excerpts from Bookfield every other day.

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