Journal

The Most Beautiful House

By Joy Lynn Clark

October 22, 2021

When I was young, and when my mom was still finding herself – we became Buddhists. I found it super boring but as usual I went along for the ride.

It started with some chanting sessions in my living room. I didn’t have to come but I was extremely curious. My first encounter was a group of chanters sitting Indian style on the floor in my living room. I crept through the group on all fours since our furniture had been moved aside. I called myself sneaking in and eventually one of the chanters spots me and shows me his little book. “What does it say?“, I ask. “Shush“. So I crawl back to my room.

After the group leaves, I decide to take a look around. The altar was so nice. There was fruit And I thought it was gonna be fake fruit like grandma’s glass grapes but, they were real grapes and a bowl of white rice. I like the bowls even. They were pretty, There was ceramics, stone, metal, wood, a bell, and gold. The altar was designed with Asian symbols and a mirror. I looked at my reflection. I thought that this altar would be a lavish place for my Barbie doll to live. I was very respectful of my mother and I never touched it.

So how can I get an altar too? Well mom said that we had to go downtown to the Shriners. Inside it was a huge movie theater and there was a black and white film showing that was full of Asians speaking an Asian language. I try to watch for a couple of hours but the Movie just kept on playing. I ended up napping.

“We are Buddhist now”, mom says. Oh I was underwhelmed. I was expecting some sort of something. Nobody gave us anything. I was wondering how will people know? Should I just tell them that we saw the movie? I don’t know about this religion.

The next time the chanters come to our house they gave me a little book of my very own. Where do I start? What does it mean? I thumbed through it. This is a nice little book and I am sure I can fit it in my purse but I can’t read it. What if I am praying to the devil? I I asked one of the chanters and he replied, “you will feel peace”.

So I focus back on Barbies future residence. The book is too big for Barbie so I can give it to cabbagie. Unfortunately, I don’t think that cabbagie can read it either.

I finally just asked mom, “can I have the altar?” I was hoping that she would remember all of my good behavior and effort that I put in to get to know this God but mom says, “no, this stuff was too expensive.” So I go back to my room and look at the book. I start imagining that it’s a book of spells. When I get to school all of the little girls were strangely talking about Jesus. On the playground I wanted to play possum (I do mean this literally, we would hang upside down all of Recess)but my friend was out with ringworm. (Ringworm is highly contagious and I knew she had it because it was on her forehead that morning so I think that she was sent home).

So I listen to the church girls and then one shy girl steps up and speaks. She is a Jehovah’s Witness. She said it’s like what the other church girls have with no holidays. “Not even Christmas?”, No. I asked, “well what about your birthday?” No.

I start thinking about being a Buddhist and I wonder if I don’t get any presents now.

One day I caught mom eating the rice out of the bowl with her chopsticks standing by the altar. I was infuriated! I respected this shrine Just to find out that the God in heaven does not eat this fruit or rice, my mom does. I believe that this religion is no place for my toys so I decide to get into the god of candy. After going to the god of candy a few times, I decide to phone in a complaint to the most religious person that I know – Grandma. So I call grandma up and tell her all about the chanting and the book of spells. She tells me that she will speak with mom. After that, “if I can’t have you, no one will” I pray that someone steals the altar. And someone does.

Joy Clark is a writer, producer, vocalist, and publisher. Lexington, KY

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