this is another sort of call to arms, writing-wise, to myself. i don't know what it'll accomplish yet.
this weekend--friday, saturday--my middle sister and i left springfield to visit our family in cassville, a very small town an hour away and where we grew up. we'd set aside the time a month in advance because going home is sort of important to us, in various ways difficult to verbalize.
the reason for our going was--if we ever need one--was to see some obscure relatives of our mother's who'd be down for this weekend only. a death in the family prevented them from coming. so it goes. we came down anyway.
home-going's always weird and lovely and sad. and that's what i want to address, here. the concept of home itself is tricky: i call cassville home, sometimes, usually to close friends. But it doesn't seem right.
i heard there's a saying that goes a man knows where he's from when he knows where he wants to be buried. i don't want to be buried in cassville, or springfield, or maybe missouri, for that matter.
we went out to fast food restaurants, like always. even when my parents come up to sgf i can't get them to go to a decent, real restaurant. we bought booze and s'mores makings and set up for a campfire. before we did that, a friend of mine and my sister's from that older time visited and the three of us visited an old haunt, changed now just so as to be bothersome a little, but the smells were the same, the view. something's always different and something else is the same. we walked back through our odd little town, how odd especially now, from a perch outside, and the highway smelled new but stretched the same, houses empty now but subject to the same projections. that house, i've always associated with Halloween, or the devil and god are raging inside me, or when grandma was really into gardening. highways in small towns, my city friends, are uniquely spooky places. i've written about it before, and damned if the subject won't turn up again sometime. one of those things i think about.
we got back to the bonfire and told ghost stories, things i've never been good at telling. i get nervous i'll give away too much so i go for laughs. it was a great time. dad told us about his ufo encounter.
when the people who raised you are preternaturally smart but are open to impossibilities, i love that.
so eventually we left, which is good, because staying too long would turn me soft. being there for any amount of time makes me drowsy, in a land-of-nod sort of way. things are too easy, dreamlike.
distance and death work together. it's weird with your family, and it was vague, nebulous, in my head until my sister articulated it on the drive home. (car held together, thank god.) part of the sadness about returning to your parents' house is that the span of time and distance has mortalized them. being on your own brings you to responsibility, to adulthood, so on, and this weaves a web of understanding about the vulnerability of your people. i realize that this works especially for me because my life hasn't been touched by much death. obviously, i've never lost a parent.
or maybe it's not death, so much as it is this: in establishing your own adultness, the narrative of your life is no longer parallel to that of your parents, it breaks away, and so their narrative line is vulnerable without your attention. the danger of initiating change in you life is in the realization that things have been changing all along. the power of it is (hopefully) the coping mechanisms you get along the way, the adaptability.
anyway you spin it, i suppose:
death = change = death = change...and so on.
going home is a realigning with the narrative you grew from, in which you return to the hub from which so many directions were open to you, and are closed now, but still offer something. i just don't know what that something is.
Bury me at a crossroads.