In June, we took a family vacation to New York. We spent 6 days in New York City and then rented a car and drove to upstate New York. We met my in-laws in Palmyra, where founding events of the Mormon church took place. After spending a day in Palmyra, we headed to Niagara to see the falls (which exceeded my expectations by far).
First, some background information: I have expended a lot of time and energy over the last 3-4 years re-evaluating all of my previously taken-for-granted truths. The ones I have assumed were as “real” as the chair I’m sitting on and the ones I have assumed were as “true” as apple pie is delicious. One major shift I have experienced has been a shift away from literal belief in numerous religious principles and events and towards a more metaphorical or abstract belief (or, in some cases, not even belief). For instance, I no longer believe that God really told Noah to build a boat and fill it up with two of every kind of animal before he flooded the entire earth as a punishment for mankind’s wickedness. Nope. I’m not sure exactly what happened there, but I don’t think it went down the way I learned about when I was three.
The same goes for many of my Mormon beliefs. So, although Mr. Cheap Seats and I thought it would be neat to see the part of the country where our church started, a tiny part of me worried about how I would feel when my evolving worldview butted up against my old one (which is the one I assumed would be presented at all the sites in Palmyra). Also, one of our children in particular has quite the nose for detecting funny business, so I also worried about her potential for making comments while at various sites that might not be appreciated by fellow visitors.
Still, I bucked up: we could do this!
Well, as it turns out, I was right to worry. For starters, I was right to worry about my daughter’s BS-o-meter, which started dinging right off the bat. As the music started playing in the visitors’ center movie, she leaned over to mock the unnecessarily dramatic music by saying, “Wow, it’s like they stole the soundtrack from the Chronicles of Narnia movie.” (Had I not just tossed my drink in the trash before entering the building, I would’ve blown Diet Coke right outta my nose.) Later on during the 60-minute movie (no, that’s not a typo; we seriously watched an HOUR-long movie at the visitors’ center), when the depiction of “Satan” showed an ominous misshapen black form creeping across the screen, she leaned over again and said, “Wow. I wasn’t kidding about Narnia. . .”
Still, despite the laughs, while Mr. Cheap Seats was drinking it all in (and genuinely loving it), the whole day was very stressful for me. The cognitive dissonance I experienced was palpable. My pulse was elevated (I swear!). I was sweating (it was hot) and I was irritable. At every turn, a very literal representation of historical events clashed with my “I’m not sure what exactly happened here, but it wasn’t that . . .” version.
The day may have ended with Brent and me in our rented car with me crying (quite a bit) and maybe even some shouting and a curse word or two. And then, in typical fashion, Brent looked at me sort of sympathetically and said, “Wow, cutie. I’m sorry you are feeling so bad. I thought it was a great day.”
And so, Doves and Serpents readers, I share with you a few of the many pictures I took as we toured Palmyra, NY. There is no photographic evidence of my blood pressure reading. ;)