There are precious few things that my six year old loves more than yard sales. She waits for the neighbors’ annual yard sale all year asking periodically, “When is their store going to be open again?” She is my baby doll motherin’, animal lovin’, bargain shoppin’ homebody. When people ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she replies, “A mommy; a grocery shopper; a veterinarian.” Needless to say, I knew Pike Days would be a wonderland for my little homemaking gatherer.
“Guess what we’re doing today, Addie?”
“We’re going to a place where there are yard sales everywhere and…horses.”
“No. You’re just joking. Really??!!”
“Yep. It’s true.”
With eyes wide she hurries to get dressed.
As we pillage through what she is certain is lying just above buried treasure, I find a childhood treasure of my own: the movie E.T.
Suddenly Addie and I are both six years old. The charm of that little brown alien reminds me of when I was just like her – when I wore the same t-shirt every single day because he was on the front of it; when I threw three t-shirts over top of it hoping she wouldn’t notice when mom asked me to change it; when I never let my yard sale bought stuffed E.T. out of my sight.
After watching the one dollar honey of a one-owner VHS version of the Extra Terrestrial last night, I remember why I loved him so much. I reckon it’s why everyone loved him. E.T. was different. He wasn’t like Elliott’s mom or his brother or his sister. He and Elliott understood each other. So much so, they even felt each other’s pain.
I heard a man questioning the purpose of tattoos yesterday. “Explain tattoos to me,” he quipped, “I really just don’t get it.” The very first thought was that same draw which E.T. has on we 80’s kids who now commonly find ourselves covered with body art: we want to be understood. Understanding often comes through pain. We believe others will know our joy, our pain, our identity, our love, and our hate if we place some permanent clues in clear view. There’s mystery in being discovered rather than revealed, but there’s freedom in having the confidence to reveal yourself. I guess there’s just something comforting about wearing your favorite t-shirt (or ink spot) every single day that says, “This is who I am. This is what I love. This is what I’m about.”
In my world, there’s not much worse than being misunderstood. The truth is that it does take someone who is other-worldly to wholly understand we human beings. Dare the theologian in me say that the relationship between E.T. and Elliott reminds me of being a Christian. Christ is not like our mothers or our fathers or our sisters or our brothers. Christ knows us through and through. He felt all that we feel. He thoroughly understands us all even though we rarely understand one another.
So if you still don’t get me, it’s ok. I probably don’t get you either. You probably don’t like yard sales, tattoos, or 80’s movies either. As for me, I’m going to look for an E.T. t-shirt on eBay.