Sunday, January 2, 2011

Getting back home.


A New Year's Essay

In some former life I was probably a wrinkled old woman dressed in rags who predicted people's futures by searching for omens.  I believe this because I feel an innate calling to look  for them, especially around the New Year.  There is usually some event that sticks in my mind as important, and then I watch it play out during the year.    

The event this year was our trip home from a much-too-short but excellent trip to Michigan.  Though Robert had requested Thursday through Wednesday from work, there was an error, and his office demanded that he be back in the office on Monday morning. There was nothing he could do about it.  So our vacation consisted of two full days in our car, and two days crammed with short visits with good friends.  It also meant that we were forced to be on the road during the terrible blizzard that hit the Northeast.

On Sunday, we got up and on our way early.  I took advantage of any dry pavement to speed as fast as I dared to get as far as possible on our 700-mile journey before the snow hit.  We did pretty good.  It started snowing when we reached Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, but the last fifty or so miles were the worst.  The snow was dry and light and flew around, so that all we could see in the headlights were the changing patterns of white dust in the air, and the painted lines on the road were only visible in sporadic glimpses.  Many drivers had given up and had pulled to the side of the highway, but I didn't think that was a good idea.  Snow drifts were piling up around them and they looked like igloos with headlamps shining through.  I wondered when and how they would ever be able to get back into the traffic flow.   

I got in as close as I could behind a big oil truck, and panicked a little when it took an exit about 18 miles from Beacon.  My hands cramped from gripping the steering wheel, but we finally made it to our peaceful little town at about 10:00 p.m..  The streets were completely deserted but for some rumbling snowplows.   We only had about four inches of snow on Beacon Street proper, but 20 inches in our driveway.  Our neighbors were vigorously trying to dig out a car parked in front of their house.  Robert had to jump out and slog through that to get the snow shovel on the back porch, and I had to keep driving around to keep from getting buried.  It was scary every time I came to an intersection, because the snow plows left berms in their wake that were taller than the underside of the car, and I was terrified of getting stuck.  I had to turn the wheel and "gun it" to get around corners.

And poor Robert was having a worse time than I was, shovelling as fast as he could.  But he finally made a space large enough.  Because of a fence, we have to make a very sharp turn to get into our driveway.  I aimed, prayed, and stepped on the gas.  The car slid sideways, bumped up against the huge snow pile that Robert and the neighbors had made, and slid right into place!  How good it was to turn the key in the door lock and to feel the warmth of our pleasant home!  How nice to be greeted by the twitching tails of two grumpy cats, who were not happy to be left alone for four days, thank you. 

So I think the theme for this new year is about how it is sometimes hard to get back home, but wonderful to get there, and how thankful I am for my homelife.

A homelife is not just a house and a family and friends and what objects we own and what good works we have to do--it is a state of mind.  It is the life that we live within ourselves.  And mine has been a little "off" for awhile.  I generally have an upbeat, can-do attitude, but sometimes (but not always) I have felt as if I am just pretending to feel that way.  Then I remembered something my mother said when one of her best friends begged off coming to my wedding ceilidh, claiming it was too near the anniversary of her husband's death, and she didn't think she would fit in amid a bunch of happy people.  Mom told her that it had taken her three years after my father died, to feel like herself again. 

This is the third year after the trauma of my mother's slow death, and I feel better now.  I don't know if that's the reason why I feel I am back to my real self again.  I don't know if there is any way one can speed up that healing process.  I know that my blackest days have been trifling to those of others, who have so much more to worry about, and so much more to grieve.  But it is good to realize that even if you are not in your "home" where you feel you belong, you are on your way.  And even though it is hard to get back home, it is worth the white-knuckled, scary drive in the dark to get there.  

Robert, the next morning

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