The Limitations Story

[20] The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.

–Isaiah 28:20 NIV

She was attempting shop therapy on the last warm day before both a cold front and a major holiday. The first part went better-than-expected, but the second part went wildly amiss.

The two competing voices in her head urged different paths. The more sensible one argued for the one stop shopping and efficiency of a big box store and the other said you want something quirky, old, with a story and a past.

So she turned left into the driveway of the German-themed antique co-op. A lot of things in this town were German themed–coffeehouses, bars, restaurants, “fests” of one sort or another.

This antique concession always fascinated her because the majority of its offerings were strewn about the lawn. She wondered if they worried about thieves making off with retro baby cribs, baker’s shelves, and attic fans in the middle of the night?

From the beginning she made precipitously bad decisions, ignoring no-return signs, not pre-measuring the hulking canoe rack which she purchased then realized would neither disassemble nor fit into her car.

She convinced the owner to let her exchange out the canoe rack for a forlorn but stately utility shelf… which then also did not quite fit the car.


Not physics despair, metaphysics despair, the kind that washes over a softly aging, fully middle aged woman when she realizes she wishes she had listened to the sensible voice, that she needs the sensible hands and feet of others, that these sensible beings are not here now and she doesn’t want to get into it with them.

The asking of help: a mitzvah of humiliation.

She stuffs the shelf in the car, wedges it in so tightly, ties it and the door with makeshift things, drives home down unfamiliar roads, hazard lights on, fully mindful of the precariousness of her itinerate position.

She has told no one but God what the real problem is. So much heavier and unwieldy than a shelf protruding from a minivan.

At home her daughter meets her, helps her dislodge the stately shelf–with its past and history, talks about the terrible thing that happens when a person confronts yet again the ornamentality of 911.

But the shelf is home, safe for now, so easily anthropomorphic.

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