Friday, February 24, 2012~
I love bats. Seems peculiar I'm sure, but it's one of my favorite eccentricities. I always wear this necklace. People frequently comment and ask about it. Here's the why as best as I can explain it:
When I was in high school our attic got a little brown myotis bat colony. They had babies and sometimes the babies would fall on the floor. Naturally, my siblings and I would scoop them up and hold them. (We are not a skittish lot.) The babies were adorable and the adults were lovely and gentle. I enjoyed their presence. The more I liked the bats and started learning about them, the more I started noticing that most people find them creepy and gross. It made me sad that such great animals were so misunderstood.
When I went away to my very strict Christian college, I was frequently told how weird and odd I was. I know I'm a little unusual, but I guess because I had such supportive amazing friends in high school, I didn't think that was a bad thing or really anything to even take note of. (Still love those fab gals!) Anyway, the administration even labeled me as someone of questionable character. I don't deny that may have been true at the time, but you'd think in a Christian setting, the proper response would have been to encourage me and come along side me, not to alienate and make me feel like a reject. That's not to say I didn't have good friends in college- I did, but even with most of them, I felt like I had to suppress some of my quirkiness, and even then I still got the "you're weird" comments. I made off campus friends too, but to them my faith made me quite peculiar. All of this made me feel very misunderstood and that led me to identify with my batty friends somehow.
I did turn some spiritual corners in my college years, but that's another story that has more to do with the camp I worked at than the college I went to. When I graduated, I got a bat tattoo to celebrate. It marks the beginning of a fun phase of life and also commemorates all the hard work I put in to get through school. It was also a statement that other people's narrow mindedness can't shake my personal walk with God or my understanding of who I am.
Now onto the necklace (after all that!)... I gave up my career when Julian was born. I was happy to do it because I believe there is no replacement for a mother in a child's life. I didn't want to miss any of his special moments and only having an hour or two a day with him wasn't going to cut it. Like most women who decide to stay at home, there is a shift in identity. I got a bit of a martyr complex and then felt smothered and then felt guilty. It was this weird sleep deprived spiral and I was just asking God for something, even though I couldn't define what it was I needed.
After Julian had weened, I decided to take a weekend trip up to see those lovely high school friends. It was my first time away from him and I was feeling guilty and a little unsure. I had a rental car and a few hours to kill before my best friend expected me so I decided to head to the Brandywine River Museum. I'd been there in high school and remembered loving all the Wyeth and Pyle galleries. I was shocked to discover they were hosting an Edward Gorey exhibit. [I'm not going to go into Gorey's art and things I like and don't like about him, but I will say I love the man's dark sense of humor. The expressions in his illustrations are painfully (and humorously) on point.] Gorey is one of my all time favorite artists and not many people I know have much of an appreciation for his work.
Having that exact art show going on at the time I just happened to be there by myself when I could really enjoy it blew my mind. I basically had the place to myself. I just felt this flood of feelings like God was giving me this as a gift of encouragement and permission to still embrace my artistic side and that it was okay to take time to still be Julie. I bought my little bat pendant there. I wear it all the time because to me it's a reminder that God made me unique and loves this batty little person just trying to love Him the best she knows how. His acceptance is really the only acceptance that matters. Maybe that meaning is a bit of a stretch to you, but that's why it's for me. I still occasionally get told that I'm unusual, but now I think to myself, Thank goodness, "normal" sounds like a prison sentence!