We went camping last weekend. It might have been high country, but I don't know. It felt like it though because here in a Dallas suburb a road called High Street is the highest I can hope of being. The trees were tall there, their trunks stretching far into above, their leaves the yellow-orange of fall in the south. It is a sanctuary, our only ceiling a canopy of falling leaves. We stopped by the closest Walmart on our way into the wild to buy hot chocolate and use the bathroom one last time before wilderness.
I've never been in an Ozark Walmart, but my guess is that were you to spread the map of America on a table and put a thumbtack down in every place where there is a Walmart, the middle expanse of the map would be filled with thumbtack Walmarts like this one. It was barely larger than a dollar store and the aisle back to the bathroom was coated, literally, with outdoor wear in camouflage and bright orange.
I have never understood the irony of wearing leaf-colored clothing topped by bright orange. Do you want to be hidden? Or found? Or is it a fashion statement? A club of the camouflaged?
There were two boys in Toy Story pajamas sitting on the floor in the media aisle watching a Pixar film on six flat-screens. Technology levels us, I think to myself, we all have access to the same entertainment. But then I find myself watching the boys more than the screens and I challenge my thinking: not everyone finds the same things entertaining.
Girls in tight jeans, hugging their barely there hips, and dark eyeliner slouch around the store, going to the bathroom in groups, fingering sweatshirts, stealing glances at us with our conspicuous middle class haircuts and the confidence that sticks to us by nature of where we're from.
Confidence is something you're born with, I used to think, but I look at them and wonder if they were born with it too, just born in the wrong town.
People talk about debt ceilings in the news a lot these days, but the only ceiling I see here is the one that girl in the tight jeans hit when I catch her staring at me and I smile back and she looks down quickly. It's a ceiling of shame.
I want to buy her a million sweatshirts and wash her face, show her how beautiful it is without painting over it.
We keep driving, passing boarded up motels, dilapidated houses, and small churches with smart quips and bad theology on their marquees.
We are sitting around the campfire later and I am staring up past those tall trees, to the sky beyond, the moon is full, orbed, bright, it is endless up there.
I feel like I can do anything I want. I was born that way.