I’m Latina and Catholic, so all things related to the body are sinful. Like my constant need to pee. When God doled out bladders, He gave me an extra small to be a constant test of my will and patience. I fail every day. I lie to use restrooms meant for “customers only”, sprint into handicapped stalls, and sneak into men’s rooms. I’m not of the pa’l carajo Latino Catholics with their enviable f**k it attitude toward guilt. I view my every action as another drop in the eternal damnation bucket collecting my eventual overflow.
My husband B is Irish and Catholic. His childhood was steeped in guilt, too but as an adult, he became what I call nouveau Catholic. He believes in redemption and a God who is waiting to listen, not watching to condemn. I pray Ave Marias for his soul during the quiet of my 2 a.m. pees.
My bladder and husband paired together break my will. When we drove west through Ireland a few years ago, B should have admitted he was driving me straight to hell and not Galway. The Irish national highway system was being modernized at the time, which meant sheep would cross on paved, not dirt, surfaces. The two-lane roadways continued for endless miles, unbordered by shoulders, towns or rest stops. My bladder is activated by the thought of water, so I abstained in the car. However, my kidneys were processing a lot of Guinness from the previous evening. After 118 miles, it was clear Santa Teresita was ignoring my pleas for patience and no bathroom was going to appear. B suggested something might pop up if we drove a little further.
“What, like a burning bush for me to put out? Just pull over, I’ll go behind a tree.”
“Look, there’s something right up ahead, let’s pull in there,” and B drove into the lot of a small church and its rectory.
“Here?” I yelled.
“They must have a bathroom,” he reasoned.
“They? It’s probably some creaky old priest who won’t hear me knocking!”
I wondered what would be more shocking to the priest: hearing pounding at the door or finding a Puerto Rican in a puddle of piddle asking for confession. I fell out of the car, my legs twisted to prevent trickling, and tripped toward the field behind the building. It sloped downward unexpectedly, but I undid the button and fly of my jeans as I rolled. I sighed into a squat. I was relieved but not relaxed as I imagined some Father O’McCreaky watching from a window as I desecrated church property. I was on the verge of saying pa’l carajo when I looked up and saw what was before me.
Waves of green with violet sprays rolled toward a blue summer sky. It was unmarred and quiet, just the occasional bird call. I was warmed by the same sun that illuminated that beauty as I peed. My body, and all its functions, was a divine creation just like everything around me. It was a deep revelation to experience while urinating, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. I let the guilt flow away from me like the trickle down the slope.
“You were out there a while. Everything come out okay?” asked B when I returned to the car.
“Just fine. I gotta pee a lot, but that’s how God made me. And that’s okay.”
I don’t know if some Father O’McCreaky saw me that day. If he did, that’s okay, too, because he beheld a God-made thing of beauty.