Leaving Home Thoughts

Culled from entries while home.


Every day, a relative says something appalling:

"We shouldn't have even bothered to fight that battle. There are more of them here than us now anyway."

"Those people sure are good at making ribs."

"Those faggots make me sick."

I try to take some comfort in the fact that none of them are my immediate family, that my parents and brother are trying to perfect the same blank stare. And I worry because we are all trying it, rather than simply speaking. Silence is what constitutes best behavior.


Sitting a traffic light, watching teenage street vendors work up between lanes. No idea what they're selling, but the farther north, the less this happens. They're weaving between cars, coming up to windows. Even without a sale, they seem to get some conversation.

There's an opposite effect as you move north: the less eye contact and chance of conversation in moments like this. There's a tendency to look away - no, more correctly, straight ahead as though there simply isn't someone approaching you - that seems to come with following the roads further north.

They're selling apples for a school band. I am home, and from here even if most days I don't feel it. I buy one and ask them where the best tacos are. No one like police and teenagers to point you to the best hole-in-the-walls for food.


I'd almost made it through the trip without incident.

But on the last night, at almost the last hour of the day, it happened. A blow up at one of the family. I wonder now why we try to avoid it. I'd spent the entire trip trying to give extra benefit of the doubt, and at the end, after all the quiet deep breaths when appalling things were said, there was simply too little reserve left.

Home makes me feel like I'm coiled up rope. Knotted. Ropes of obligation and good behavior, twisting in on itself. Pulling against itself. Straining. I wonder what the rest of them feel like in these moments.


I spend a Saturday teaching my friend's daughter to throw invisible balls. She's got a good arm and hefts one 90 miles to the south, to her grandfather's back yard. She's got a good eye. She catches it when he tosses it back. At the end of the afternoon, before the belly kisses and flying lessons begin, I warn her to be careful: an arm like that and she might throw one and knock the moon down.

Solemnly, she nods. She'll be careful.


My oldest friend says he doesn't want to get married. That he's not ready for kids. His brother is giving him the third degree. Isn't it time? Doesn't he feel the pull?

Married with kids, he's still somehow lonely. His life has contracted, 90 miles from an old life with friends and the rest of his family, surrounded by the pleasures of children's cartoons and a garden designed to draw butterflies and birds. Is this it?

They're brothers to me. Most days, more so than the actual one I've got. I wish I had something to tell them, some perspective to give. I wish I were here more.


The best moments are the quiet ones. My father and I laughing about some off-hand comment. My mother and I talking about a recipe. Or my best friend and I making up super heroes like we're 8 years old again as we drive home, halfway between where we were and some undefined where we're going.

Save us, Graffiti-on-the-wall-just-add-some-basil-to-make-it-sing-recapturing-childhood Man. Save us.


2 Responses to “Leaving Home Thoughts”
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ash said...
Notorious Ph.D. said...

This is a really beautiful musing post. Thanks for sharing it with all of us your readers (and sometimes lazy lurkers like me).

January 6, 2009 at 1:18 PM