They say you can never go back home.
The other day I took the family up to Boston for the day to check out the U.S.S. Constitution and snag some other sights. It was a beautifully miserable New England day, complete with rain, cold, and somehow antithetically strewn about the Boston skyline. Desperately trying to prevent my sister from wandering too far on her own and my mother from becoming another casualty statistic of Beantown traffic, I guided them through the better part of Harvard Square and downtown to get them a real taste of metropolis. The repeated statement of the day was “I would hate to live here.”
Over dinner my mom mentioned how she couldn’t believe out of all the places in the world I ended up here. I think she always knew I would leave, but didn’t think I was at all serious about uprooting and finding a new home on the East Coast. But as I was telling her, living out here has been the only real home I’ve ever known.
I never could just pull up a chair and talk to a stranger over coffee in Kansas. Any time I spoke in Kansas people would give me a weird look. Any time I speak around here people give me a smile. In Nebraska, I had five places to play in the entire state. Now, I have ten places to play in the town in which I live. I get better coffee, music, movies, and dancing.
The grass is quite literally greener on the other side, if only for me.
Like folks all over America, the family greeted me with the bleary-eyed malaise of a band of soldiers who just walked the holiday travel equivalent of Bataan and back. Finally making it into Beantown at the lovely hour of 3am, all they could talk about were folks that had it a lot worse. Needless to say, there are more than a couple families spending their Turkey days at O’Hare.
Rainy, windy, and clogged with construction traffic, they got a fair enough introduction to New England. Good coffee, bad weather, and insane drivers; I think I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate welcome.
When the girls were finally going to bed, my mom’s boyfriend Rex came up to me and gave me a hug and said, “I think you’re fucking crazy.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, the houses, the traffic. I mean, each to his own, but you’re fucking crazy.”
I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
So I’m up late and crazy sick and still doing my laundry. My family is visiting in two days. Sadly, I don’t have my normal luxurious procrastination to rely upon.
I also apparently have to mind my pen when writing in the .plan, as a trivial aside I had written nearly a year ago has come back to haunt my mother. Evidently the subject of my “school lunches” assignment in Advanced Composition has learned how to use Google, with my tirade about her vermisilitude in the swearword department showing up a lovely second place. My elementary memories of mealtime serving as a canvas for a still life piece of the beauty of German swearing turned out to bite my mum in the rear, as she received an irate call at work earlier today with just that problem.
Well. I wish I could say it was the first time I got my mum in trouble with the Internet. At least the Feds aren’t involved this time.
From our dear brother Ted:
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.
It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt.
If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter of 1798, after the passage of the Sedition Act
And at 3:44pm on a Friday afternoon, in the midst of a mid-day bustle of the technological congress of commerce and labor, it hit me like a slug to the chest that all I really wanted was to be there and see her face again. All I really wanted to say was i love you And I Miss You. All I really wanted to see was the emerald isle and the friendly nod of a stranger. The proud pat of a mentor, the incredulous look of a stranger, and the unique clamour of scholars and saints let loose on a weekday such as this in a palace far beyond their station drinking brew far beyond their toleration.
I wanted little more than to walk the Long Room at Trinity and smell literature. I wanted little more than to feel history, and for history to feel me. A pint on a knoll overlooking a craggy inlet, shared with a dearest friend, a mortal enemy, and a handful of awkward strangers. Chased by a badger, a memory, and a sense of impending seperation with a homeland.
At 3:45pm, the world kept going. But for a bit I was back in Ireland, and for the afternoon I was heartbroken that I was here.