So home is a wonderful thing.
I forgot to write about my fly-by-night visit home a few weeks ago, which included watching my sister play volleyball and going to a German teachers’ weekend with my mom and keeping up with the conversation just fine (and also making one of the ladies, who is a native speaker and a Ph.D., laugh).
I’m home again; drove back on Friday and it is now Monday, and although my nuclear family remains awesome as always, my extended family is having a bit of a time of it, and thus also my nuclear family. It’s all entirely too complicated and I don’t know the half of it, but suffice it to say, things are changing.
I find it slightly disconcerting that as soon as I “left” home in 2013, the entire status quo shifted. I must have grown up in the tranquil period. In May I will have been out of high school for two years, and by then all of my grandparents will have moved out of the houses I visited them in when I was a kid. Which is uncomfortable and sad. I have not seen my Minnesota grandparents’ farmhouse since the last time I saw my grandfather, which was in the summer of 2013 just after my cousin’s wedding, five months before he died. I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. I think my mom wished we could have gone back to see it before it was sold, but that never happened. And now my dad’s parents are moving out of the house a block away from ours where they have lived for almost forty years.
Recently I added Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band” to my Spotify. I listened to it in the car a lot with my parents when I was but a kid. Its real significance lies in the version with lyrics adapted by my uncle to be sung at my grandfather’s funeral. Which of course makes me sad. But the saddest part is that even before that, listening to it in the car with my parents, I used to feel like crying as we sang it because it made me think of when my parents would get old.
Apparently it’s just the Aging Parent Anthem. I don’t know where I’m going with this.
There is good, there is healing. I don’t know everything about all of it; some stuff is, I think, getting aired out that hasn’t been since this century began. But on Friday night, after I drove myself home and my sister sprained her ankle at volleyball practice and my mom threw up her hands and ordered pizza and we ate it on the floor of the living room until my dad came home and told us he’d hadn’t seen his mother in such a good mood in ten years, and that she and my grandpa were holding hands in the hospital room, I cried. A lot.
Home is where I don’t have to make conversation, where the left corner of the couch has always been my homework spot (except when somebody else needs Dad’s math help). Home is where I am suddenly funnier than I have been for a month. Home is where, when my dad builds a fire and we make smores under the stars and I still smell a bit like smoke, and when Anna brings up the song Dad used to sing to us when we were kids, both Dad and I still know all the words.
The song is Night Rider’s Lament, which I posted about a while back, and frankly, it’s my favorite song in the world. The lyrics are different depending on the version, but the motif is always the same. We might be crazy out here…
But they ain’t never seen the northern lights,
They ain’t never seen a hawk on the wing,
They ain’t never seen spring on the Great Divide,
They never heard ol’ camp cookie sing.
They all must be crazy out there, but in here, we’re doing all right, just us.