An Unabashadly Adorable List of Things I Learned While I Was Home

So this year, I had the luxury of being able to fly across the country to be home for Christmas. The experience was wonderful, warm, and not entirely unlike some yellow-hued romcom starring Kate Hudson and a handsome guy.

Beyond that, it was Home. That idea means something different to each of us, but for me, it is a very specific set of feelings and identity. Growing up, I had the pleasure/misfortune of never having to move — my childhood, adolescence and embarrassing teenage years were simply split between my mom’s and my dad’s. I grew up with the same friends, doing the same things and revisiting the same places year after year, to the point where the paths in my brain are so comfortably worn in, I can travel to them anytime I want, without a plane. Finally getting to be home for the holidays after a year and a half afforded me the kind of contrast Newt Gingrich’s campaign managers can only wish they had. (Also I went to college with the girl who wrote that article. Deep reference.)

So, here they are: the seven things I think are true that I got to learn at home.

    1. Keep your friends close…
      You’re going to need them when your family gets boring. And having a group of people you can lovingly make fun of while they tell you every time you’re being annoying is the kind of closeness you can find only in those who have seen you at your best and — more frequently — at your worst. They will, however, delight in spending more time complaining about ordering the wrong appetizer than they will in fillingĀ  you in on exactly how you managed to buy so many drinks last night.
    2. …And your siblings closer.
      If friends are moving with you laterally through time, your siblings are doing so linearly. Middle children, you have the distinct benefit of not only seeing the mistakes you could make play out in front of you, but also, of instructing your younger sibling to not make the same mistakes you did. This goes for everything from saving money to not dating anyone your freshman year of college to not overusing tobacco products. *Ahem.*

      Siblings!

      We Three Bs: Bryan, Bret, Brittany (from left)

    3. Family is good. Really good.
      Make time in your life to reconnect with everybody — cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. They let you step outside of yourself and hold a mirror up to you at the same time.
    4. Be happy for them, because they’re happy for you.
      So, maybe the cousin you got better grades than in middle school is going to make four times the amount of money you make, as soon as he takes his first breath outside of pharmacy school. At least you’re not going bald. It all balances out.
    5. Know when to speak up…
      If a family is supposed to be a group of people who care about one another and look out for their best interests, you have to know when it’s time to open your pie hole and put your foot down. The best thing to do is something we all learned in like, 5th grade: tell the person how his actions are making you feel. With the admonishments out of the way and your feelings on the table, it’s a whole lot easier to find that middle ground and potentially create positive change — if you really do care about each other.
    6. …And when to shut up.
      Maybe you know that one of your neighbors has breast cancer. It’s totally sad and unexpected, and it’s even more of a surprise when you and your brother see her and her husband walking around the neighborhood on Christmas morning. You say it’s great to see them again after such a long time and you ask them how they’re doing. “Good,” they say. “It’s the same old thing around here.” You smile and laugh and wish them a Merry Christmas — and let them enjoy their day.
    7. Love knows no distance.
      Whether it’s a niece who is finally old enough to remember your name, a best friend you haven’t seen in years or a grandmother you might never see again, if the love was there once it’ll be there again. Moreover, it was never gone, you just probably never think about it. I really believe that if you have a solid foundation with someone and haven’t done anything to smash it into tiny concrete bits, you can always go back there. It might take you some time, but you’ll find it again. If anything, I’d say that’s pretty good motivation to at least try. The feeling will be worth it if you do.

What’s weird and hard about all of this, is, like a movie, “Home” now comes to an end for me. It’s not something I can just rewind and watch again — I don’t get to just hop on a plane whenever I want and revisit these wonderful notions, all neatly packed into a visit spanning several days. The places, the people, and the feelings are all so tangible in those visits, but when I’m gone, they exist as shadows, blips on a radar, or that song you can’t get out of your head but don’t quite know all the words to. Groping in the dark, I find them, hold them for a moment and then they’re gone.

So what do we do — we “Homeless” — to keep all of those things alive? For me, it starts with recounting my list of seven. It will end when I see them all again.

Love you guys. Happy 2012.

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The Extended End To My Writer’s Block: Home Gets In The Way

Holy crap, it’s been forever since my last post. And I’m typing this one knowing that I already don’t have much to say, but feel the need to say SOMETHING, lest I continue to swirl around in the gross, grey laundry water of my mind, thinking on repeat, “This would be good to write about. Naw. THIS would be good to write about. Naw.”

If you answered, “Holy crap, she’s stuck in an anti-blog negative mind bender trap thing,” you would be right. And you would have said “holy crap,” one of my favorite phrases. That’s double Master Points, and let’s not forget, we’re keeping track.

What’s happening, I believe, is this: I got pretty busy. My schedule switched from days to nights, leaving my mornings open to do all of the nonsense I would do at night, just in my pajamas. My boyfriend moved in with me, taking all that time I would to do nonsense alone, and giving us joint-nonsense-time custody, which is GREAT, and it makes me more sane, but also less weird. And finally, we didn’t have the Internet in my house for like, two weeks. So that hurt.

All of these things, of course, I pin up as excuses for not writing. The real issue being I know exactly what I want to write about, but don’t feel a way to do it justice that will convey to you, Loyal Reader, just how thoughtful and intriguing I am while simultaneously maintaining my sense of heart and self-deprecation. And here’s why:

All I want to write about and all I want to do is go home.

The idea has been the dichotomous wedge in my very core for so very long, and it is finally the one and only thing I want. And I’m not even playing you Edward Sharpe for this.

Walking through Boise’s north end last weekend, between the blossoming Dog Woods (blech!) and the adorable fairy tale houses, Jamie and I were talking about what comes next. “Honestly?” I said, “People ask me all the time about what I want to do after this, and what I want to do after this is go back to my parent’s house, sleep for two weeks and then wake up and figure it out.”

For the first time like EVER, I want to pack it in, give it up, pull the covers over my head and languish. I want to retreat to the secret sanctuary in my old backyard, where the grass still hasn’t grown over the spot where my step-dad’s garden was. Or has it? I want to run circles around the house with the ghost of my dog and collapse in the space between the fences where the grass is long and no one can see you if you wait long enough.

The worst answer to the whole question, “Why can’t I?” is the very simple, “Because now you CAN’T do that anymore,” Jamie said, the backdrop of Boise — a strange new city — illuminating something about the underlying context of our conversation.

The better answer is that I’m catching a plane home in June, which will be fine, I’m sure. It will be an excuse to be done with this temporary insecurity, at least.

The best answer is what it won’t be: The promise of a sense of belonging to something that makes sense to you. Like any good teenager, I may have hated living at home when I did, but I was so damn good at doing it. Growing up in the boundaries of the same little house and the same little town means that anything is possible out side of those boundaries. The boundless, maybe. It means, for a while, you can dance inside of those constraints figuring that anything else has got to be better. You grow like a vine, weaving through the wires of those fences, holding each other up. Pull the wires away and what happens? Me, a warm pile of goo, with nowhere to go but out and down.

The reality of anything being possible can be a terrifying one. The strength to rebuild enough boundaries on your own to keep believing that any of those things could one day be within reach takes more strength than I realized.

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“The worst thing about living a lie is just wondering when they’ll find out.” — Merrill Garbus