Friday, December 16, 2011

25 years

The best gift I ever gave my children was a childhood in a single home; they've lived their entire lives in the same house.

We moved in twenty-five years ago today. My son was 8 months old, my daughter still just an amorphous idea of a second child.

I've always wondered what this does to a psyche.

My children retain their keys. When they come home, they're coming home--they let themselves in; they know where things are. It is understood that they "live" here, even though they don't live here. I can't wrap my head around the sense of belonging and stability that this must give a child. For me this is the house that I chose and bought; for them it's their country. I think this house must feel to them like "theirs" in ways that I cannot fathom.

Americans are used to moving--it's practically a national pasttime. Companies think nothing of uprooting a family and sending them across the country because it's better for the business. Kids get out of college and home in on any community but home.

As a child, I lived at 7 different addresses in four states as my father worked his way up the academic heirarchy. From the age of 17, when I started college, to the age of 30, when we moved here, I lived at 8 addresses in 3 cities, including an entirely different country. I didn't even get to go "home;" between them in that period my parents also lived at 6 different addresses in 2 cities, none of them places that I had ever lived. When I visited them, it was to unfamiliar apartments furnished with unfamiliar objects.

After my son came back from his world travels, seeing dozens of American, European and Mideast cities on tour as a musician, he remarked that he'd never seen a place where he couldn't do anything that he could do at home.

Because he has one. This one.

You're welcome.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Double nickle

That's right. 55. I turned 55.

My mother was never this old, in fact I actually noted the day, November 21, that I lived longer than my mother. So from here, I'm making it all up.

I went out to dinner with my old friends Holly and Chris. We always share birthdays, and have been doing this for years. They started this right out of college. I used to make it a bigger deal and invited other friends too, until Chris, bless her heart, asked if she and Holly and I could do it just among ourselves, because my other friends were either boring, arrogant, annoying, or all three.

Sadly, I realized she was right, so we started doing it with just us, and occasionally our friend Maggie.

Well, 55 was one for the record books. I decided I needed to write it down because birthday parties don't really get much worse than this. (Okay, there was the time Bill gave me a surprise party even though I begged him not to, and I spent the entire party locked in the bedroom, crying.)

First, I decided to walk to the restaurant since it wasn't very far (a little more than a mile). Five blocks short I tried to step off the sidewalk to get around this lumbering idiot who was slowly making his way along, and put my foot into a pothole, nicely breaking my ankle. Then I couldn't get a bus to stop for me, and had to walk the rest of the way.

The restaurant gave me ice, but refused to ask someone for ibuprofen, in case I sued them, so my friend had to go to the nearest store, several blocks away, to get me some. We get seated, right next to an unsealed door behind which is a very raucous wedding, playing music so loud that conversation was pretty much impossible. The waiter wouldn't move us, so we simply moved our selves, one 2-top over so there was a little more distance between us and the door.

At which point the hostess comes over and explains to us that the table we've moved to will actually need to be added to a large group scheduled to come in 45 minutes, so we're going to have to be done in 45 minutes so they can be seated. At this point I finally started to cry.

Happy Birthday. You're old, injured, and a pain in the neck.

It all worked out. The restaurant found a way to set up the needed table without ousting us; the other party didn't show up anyway. The wedding finally started dinner and turned the music off, and my friends more or less carried me home and made me tea.

No way Holly (June 4) and Chris (September 14) can top that.