Home For the Holidays

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It takes, on average, about 6 hours home with my parents before I reach the “you’re driving me crazy” stage. It’s the smothering concern – the wanting to know about every little detail, the meaning behind every inflection in my voice, and the story behind every name I mention [made that much harder by their inability to remember the ones attached to the people who have physically slept under their roof.] It’s going from zero to 60 on the “answering to another person” scale and I don’t like it at all. I do my best to keep the bitch meter in check, but around the 24-hour mark we hit the stage in which I begin to wonder exactly where in the hell I came from, since surely it wasn’t these two people. Then I remember the explanation – they weren’t around when I was growing up; I’m largely a product of my own development.

My father was around enough to supplement my drivers ed classes though; a fact that is evident when I relay to him the details of my drive in from Austin.

“I almost got a ticket.”
“Almost? Did he pull you over?”
“Well I’m pretty sure he wanted to…”
“Does that mean you out ran him??? Way to go baby!! That’s my girl!!!”

As an only child, I lack the buffers that those of you with brothers and sisters enjoy, so when that 24 hour mark strikes, I head off for sanctuary. Josh is my oldest friend, clocking in at 17 years. He doesn’t know I’m coming, but I know I’ll be welcomed. I pull in front of the house; recognize his car in the driveway alongside a truck unfamiliar yet instantly identifiable. Of course it’s Him; the two of them were practically inseparable in high school. I ring the bell, hear the familiar sounds of the dogs barking and the drawers opening and shutting… adjustments being made for an unexpected visitor. I see the expression on his face when he pulls back the curtain and see it’s just me on the doorstep.

We hug hello and I apologize for not calling first, but once you pass the decade mark in friendship such formalities are not needed. He leads me to back room where the PlayStation is on and where sure enough, He is there manning a controller. And suddenly, I’m 17 again. Sitting back watching the boys play (only now swapping video games for guitars), drawers are opened and trays are brought out, there is trash talking and laughter with only the occasional mention of adult responsibility to bring us down to earth. At times, Josh and I sound very much like people who have known each for 17 years: “I can’t believe we’re arguing about little computerized football men”, I say to him. “Me either’, he replies ‘Yet, here we are.” And the two of them are as close as brothers – when His 1-9 team beats Josh’s 10-0 team in OT, He leans back in his chair and remarks “I feel just a little bit better about life after that.”

Me too.

Merry Christmas y’all.