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Home again home again jiggity jig.   —   Family

There's a price to pay with growing up and growing old, I suppose some would say that there are many prices to pay and depending on how you look at it those some would be right. But so far, in my expiring youth, I try to take my punches as they come, the tedious responsibilities and minor protests of my flesh and bones seems par for the course and can be managed with knowledge, information and the right frame of mind. But my personal price, the price that is at times so high it seems unfathomable, is paid in the currency of a heart breaking under the weight of a thousand small cracks, like a pane of glass slowly shattering one spiderweb fracture at a time.

Childhood, for me, was your typical fare of pleasure and pain. I was a pretty happy kid, I entertained myself with barbies and books and rarely had a need that wasn't met twice over. School was difficult for me and I hated it but home life was full of love and adventure so there was a balance that seemed to work itself out. My mother was wonderful and adoring while my father was hilarious and hard as nails, again, it was a harmonious balance that taught me feminine qualities whilst forming my tough outer layer. Our home was warm and beautiful, our things were works of art both created by my parents and also carefully hand-picked and purchased. Evenings, weekends and summers were spent playing games, watching movies, reading books, playing outside in our woods, going camping and spending time with each other. They were formative years to say the very least and sometimes they play through my head like a favorite movie I know by heart. But when I started dating at the age of 16, my world shifted from home and family to Me and Him. Everything else faded into the background and the only thing in focus was my new found self and what that meant in life. Meanwhile, my family was slowly coming apart and two years later, while I was living with my boyfriend and completely self obsessed, everything that I grew up loving and believing in scattered to the winds forever. It was like leaving your house for the day and coming home to a property devastated by a natural disaster, you never got to take one last look, never had a chance to say goodbye or save your valuables. I never got closure with my childhood, my family or home, which may be why at the age of 32 I am still weighted with the loss of them.

When I was 19 I moved out of Michigan to the landlocked mountainous terrain of Colorado. And so began my gypsy travels, moving here and there in search of myself or in search of what I had lost, it's hard to say for sure. But whatever it was it only took five states and two years to find it, and then everything changed. I built a life in NYC with the man I would eventually marry, built friendships that would withstand marriages, kids, distance and time, lived fast and hard and grew up without knowing it. I have always had and maintained a close and honest relationship with both of my parents, especially after their divorce. And while during all of this time of growth and exploration I kept in constant contact with phone calls, I rarely made time to visit them in Michigan. My excuses are that of everyone's - I don't have the money to travel, I can't take time off work, etcetera etcetera. But in the end the only thing that rings true every time is that I just didn't take the time. It's quite simple.

The past twelve years are peppered with visits, I go home for a holiday or a vacation, my mother comes for a visit, my father comes for a visit, but if I were to sit down and tally the face to faces I have had with them in the last decade, it would not look good. I could most certainly count them on both of my hands, and right now at this moment I can't think of anything sadder. Though with all of this said I do not claim to be the victim of anything other than that of a restless spirit. I know this is the life that I chose and even if I could have seen the future all those years ago my path would not have altered. I was never meant to live a small town life surrounded by family and friends I've known since grade school. But it does not change the fact that every year that passes the miles that stretch between me and my folks seem longer and more treacherous. The years tick by and everyone ages in the privacy of their homes eventually betraying the frozen snapshot our minds keep of one another locked in time ten years prior.

And so I continue to live out my life, maintaining a marriage and building friendships and discovering new directions and peeling back layers of myself and all the while I keep the memories of childhood high up on a shelf like a mythical creature you can't see or touch but you still know is there.

Five years have passed since I've been back to Michigan. Five years have passed since I'd seen my dad. Only a little over a year had passed since I'd seen my mother but that's only because she'd sell her soul for a train ticket to Portland if she had to, fortunately it hasn't come to that yet and she still maintains a yearly visit somehow. But going home is a whole new animal, it not only includes seeing a parent but also includes being surrounded by artifacts and scents of a past life, the mythical creature suddenly has form again and it's breathtaking and surreal. Because you see, I not only have relationships with people but some strange thing inside of me develops relationships with things as well. Furniture and art and jewelry and tools and kitchenware and clothing and toys and books ... they all become a part of me and seeing these things that I once knew so intimately after keeping them only in memory for so long is like regaining a part of myself that I thought was forever lost. I can lose myself in the smell and texture of an old wooden side table, or spend an hour studying the colors and lines in a piece of art, they are all old friends and we communicate through every sense but sound.

But even these things aren't the price you pay for growing up and growing old. The price, as unfathomable as it sometimes seems, is seeing your parents grow old. Watching as their flesh and bones and face defy the image you hold of them within you to the point where the reality doesn't seem real and your brain starts to compensate for all the minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years you missed out on, and suddenly death seems imminent and you start to wonder how in the world you will ever be able to cope or recover from the death of a parent and part of you decides that you may not, that a very important part of you will die with them and that there's no coming back from something like that. And then your pray for a strength that doesn't seem strong enough no matter the weight that it may bear, and you push it all back and away and tell yourself not to worry, that we still have countless minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years to spend together, even if you can count the last decade of face to faces on both hands.

Posted 12.6.2010 2:00:47 AM

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