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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home For the Holidays









The Holidays

I Won't Grow Up

I'll Never Grow Up

I Am A Grown Up

I Wish I Was A Kid Again...

Or Not.


I would love to invent a new title for grown up "children" that applies to both sides of the aisle. Parent and child alike.

To our parents, we will be forever young. 

To our children, we will forever be a generation out-of-step.

We love each other deeply, but we both resist change.

Yet we both have earned the right to do so.

When I was in my twenties, a millennium or so ago, when the numbers on a clock face were Roman Numerals, I missed my parents. Counted the days. Eager to be home. To be spoiled and hugged. 


...the door opened and I walked down the length of the hallway that led into the living room of their apartment. The photographic panorama, like historical wallpaper, from my birth to my high school graduation, welcomed everyone to the Museum of Me.

My high school hallmark, an image of very bushy eyebrows and teased poofy hair, severely cramped my newly tweaked and tweezed,  sophisticated style. 

Frozen in time. Like an insect sealed in amber. Suspended animation. A dog eared page, a story yet to be told. 

The new me, my twenty something married and college educated fully employed living in another state, me, must surely be just around the corner. Nope. Just a repeat performance for each of my brothers. 

Don't misunderstand. 

Home. I loved going home. Sitting on the floor thumbing through family albums. Super 8 movies in mime. Sound came later. Walking the sidewalks and retracing footsteps past my high school, the park, the record store, and the candy shop. The "L" riding high, scooting past my stop on its return to the downtown loop.

Loop. A continuous loop. Round and round, except for the moment, somewhere, along those tracks, I launched from a loaded slingshot, arched up and away headed on a new flight path out of town.

I knew my way home. 

I just wasn't sure how to behave when I got there. 

My parents set the thermostat at 90 degrees,

and left all the windows wide open.

When I was a kid, the windows in our old apartment were sealed tight against the cold, as the heat from the radiators was never enough to spell the chill.

Who could blame them for their extravagance,

but Christmas was like living in a sweat lodge

From my parents viewpoint, my new life was odd, transient and distant. To them, I lived in a foreign land. The people I lived with everyday, I now would see perhaps once or twice a year, for only a few days. Long enough to thaw and melt our awkwardness about the time we had to pack and pull on coats. I left, with tears in my eyes, wanting to stay and be their child, yet needing to leave and be my new self in my new life in my new universe. In their eyes, I saw my reflection much the same as the first time I left, the pain and longing, but with a new wrinkle. 

They looked slightly ready for me to leave.

To return to their new lives, just two,

as they were once, before I came to be. 

Now it is my turn. 

I stand, parent to child, as they unpack suitcases, these taller, older versions of my children, and flinch as they reach for the thermostat.

It's hot in here they say.

We like it that way, we say. 

They look and appear to be grown-ups. Why then, as they toss the football in the yard and wrestle with each other in the dirt, do I see two little boys, small and silly with knobby knees and missing teeth, grinning up at me?

What do I call them now?

No longer children. They are men, these sons of mine. 

Grown men.


So am I.

A grown up parent...and each a grown up child. 

I wonder if it is true, what I've heard said,

that a child never leaves the man.

Or is it that the parent never leaves the child?

I think, it is for me at Christmas time, especially important, to simply say, the words whispered to me, in my own parents' embrace.

No matter where you are, I will love you forever.

A timeless message.

From parent to child and back. 

The perfect loop.

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