Sunday, June 07, 2009

yeah, they'll stay with me until the end

Everyone, I like to think, grows up with some form of comfort music. Van Morrison has nothing to do with the corner of EBF where I was raised. And really, when I was growing up there, the radio mostly played things like Gloria, Brown-Eyed Girl, and Wild Night. But somehow it seeps into your bones just the same, so that, when I heard the rest of Van's rather extensive collection later, it felt like coming home. Home is like that, after all. There's the home you thought you had, and then little pieces of home you glimpse when you're a long way gone.

I've been thinking of home lately and the different people I have been. Home, because I realized recently that I had a sense of home only because I had a sense of family. The different people I have been, because it's nearly laughable to think of it now, but there was a time that I was ruled by a sense of family obligation. I used to drive 6 hours just to go to a birthday party. My cousins would call and invite themselves over for dinner or for brunch, and much to my mother's chagrin, I could never say no. It was all driven by selfishness, really, the same selfish impulse that always seems to spur most of my tendencies. I wanted to be of some use, I wanted to feel needed. And my cousins were exceptionally good at that, the way they'd grab my hand to show me something or the ease with which they'd nestle up next to me to watch television or the false flattery they'd heap upon me to coerce me into baking them something.

It's hard to trace the exact moment when everything changed. Some moved away. Some of us grew apart, as they became their own, distinct people and we had less and less in common. And some was my doing as well.

I got an email from a cousin recently, chiding me for drifting out of touch. It is sort of hilarious, because my cousins have been sort of mortified by me in the past few years. They are used to getting regular phone calls from me. They are used to me spending vacation time visiting them. They have been a bit bewildered that I'm not the person I used to be. In a way, I suppose it's a good lesson for them, the one I learned from them as well, after all. We're always changing, relationships are redefined, they sputter and resume. We grow apart and then something brings us close together. We hurt each other one day and comfort each other the next. I don't know if it's too bold to say that family remains, weathers the changing winds. But so I hope.

In the meanwhile, I see them, my family, my home, in all kinds of things. When I bake a batch of cookies and my friend AB gives me a bear hug, or when my friend BB prods me to knit her a camera case, or even when a friend is being bratty about something. I catch a glimmer, just a little, but enough.

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