and so i am back. how odd to be gone for a week and come back to another wonderland, like this; at home in alabama there was no snow, no blanket of white. but here? it seems it never went away from the first time around. i live up a road that is quiet, that ends somewhere up the mountain above me; snow plows don't show up for days on end, and driving comes to a halt. things settle into being even quieter than i'd ever think possible, and life seems to wait, suspended, for days at a time. the difference between the weather in alabama and here on firefly road makes the transition from my visit with my parents to coming back to my own home that much more distinct:
i go home to be with my folks for a week, am surrounded by loveliness and cleanliness and order. the stress level is very much heightened for everyone, naturally, because i have a wild child named walter, because i am an emotional open book by nature, because i tend to allow my feelings to dictate my knee-jerk behavior. my mother is forever cool and collected, ever the rock, and oh my goodness, i never can be, no matter how hard i try. my father is even more emotional, and now cries at the drop of a hat. he tells the same stories over and over and over again, he is infinitely confused and has to be told something many times over within a minute, a second or two. we all humor him, because we love him as much as we do. we listen to his stories as if it were the first time, we answer his many questions, we wrap our lives around his needs because that is what one does with someone who is so very deeply cherished and loved. trips home always tear me completely in two: while there, i pine for here; when i get back home to firefly road, i pine for there. times spent with family - the boys, my parents, my sister - leaves me missing them more when we wave goodbye than when i am used to being alone, settled in my quiet little world. my skin is thinner, then; my heart swells so much that it quite literally aches. such is life, my friends; i know you understand.
we all feel that way, i think. we all want our children to grow up and be independent, and we are all sad to see them go. (parents of babies and toddlers, take heed: the time absolutely flies). we love our parents, we remember how comforting it felt to be a child under their protective wings; we also know how good it feels to move out on our own. life: so full of give and take, so full of this and that. i feel like a wilted little girl again today, sitting here alone in the quiet that is my home; i feel like a child who is stranded at camp, trying to hold back the homesick tears. i feel like i'll never grow up, i'll never mature, i'll never be able to stitch over this heart that forever resides on my sleeve. when will i ever learn? so today, i am remembering beautiful little moments that have grown larger than life in my heart. i am recalling how daddy admired a necklace from a friend that i wore, how he held the colored glass in the sun and admired the way it sparkled in his beautiful weathered hands. i am remembering the thirty minutes on christmas eve night that the boys and i sat in my car outside of a japanese restaurant, laughing and freezing while we waited for our order to carry back to the house. i remember that i was frustrated at the time, sitting in the cold like that on christmas eve, and today i am realizing just how warm it was in that car with my two sons, laughing and reminiscing while we waited and watched other people scurrying to and fro in the cold. i remember with great warmth how giddy my mother was, such bright light in her eyes, when she was able to go out for two hours to dinner with old friends, such a rare thing these days, while i stayed with daddy and kept his anxiety at bay as best i could. i feel so stupid for being agitated about anything that happened this past week for christmas - about being rushed, about frantic schedules, about being separated by miles and a now ancient divorce; i wish i could have the crystal clarity of hindsight, as life is happening, not after the fact. robin and roy both quoted a line from the very funny Christmas Vacation movie several times: "I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery". this makes me laugh, because it is so true, if you give stress another name; the pressure put on us to squeeze perfection out of each and every minute of the holidays leaves us wondering what is wrong with us when we suffer from frustration, frazzle, and a little dose of good old fashioned eggnog-flavored anxiety. i will eventually learn, i promise; at 54, i'm not there yet, but i'm getting a little closer with each and every day.