i am trying to explain the way the heart gets heavier with age, and bigger, too
the weight and depth of perspective
i am trying to explain that when i left i didn’t look over my shoulder, not even once
i am trying to explain that i never been to a funeral
i am trying to explain that i am more sensitive now, that the kim larsen tribute concert made me cry in a way that surprised me
i am trying to explain that our dog is 97 in dog years
i am trying to explain that the shadows i find of myself in my high school bedroom closet feel like time travel
i am trying to explain that maybe i am becoming my mother, that maybe my mother is still becoming herself
When you get older and return home, home is amber-hued. Home is paused, transfixed, suspended. How else to describe the lump in the throat when you push open the door? Your room is the special exhibit of the three-story museum that is your house. The books you read in high school. The love letters, in a box. Old shoes. Prom dresses. The feel of the pillow on your head as you lie in a fetal position and blink away tears. The dusty feeling of your life becoming history.
It's been looted, too. By your sister and brother. The bookshelf is emptier, one year - books absent like a row of missing teeth. The next year, the bookshelf's gone, too. The mirror. Even you will find things in your childhood closet to take with you, stealing from an old self, not bothering to promise to return it. A few years down the line your father will request, in an email, that you return home to empty everything out. There will be a deadline. Even now you're already wondering if the time capsule you made in the 5th grade is worth pulling from the wreckage - calculating what could possibly be in it that makes it worth keeping - rotting - in someone else's basement until 2050.
Photographs. Little you with long legs and summer hair, time to linger a little too long on family portraits and wonder what you didn't know then. By now everyone has lost children and parents and jobs and minds and the tectonic plates of most nuclear families have shifted and shivered and shuddered. Family is like, imperfection. Like, imperfection is the only identical. BUT. Isn't it wonderful that we're all scratched up and shredding skin and yearning at heart and growing into ourselves at 25, at 58, at 18?
Home is the shell, the family house, where your father's welcome meal is venison stew, gamey and fragrant and herbal. He’s layered a new reality on top of the old one. Paintings and books and bills. Other parts - deserted, like empty museum wings after the exhibit has finished. Childhood in the basement. 2016. The first born bedroom. 2013.
Home is the first meal your sister makes you when you get off the train from the airport, weaving a trail through busy Bed Stuy with a red suitcase, stopping to introduce yourself to the lady on the street sitting in her curb home. The lentil soup is spicy and buttery and cozy, take from a beloved New York tiny apartment blog. Her space is lush wtih plants, books, notes, bits of self. You sleep in her bed and hear the street noise at night and thumb through her closet hangers and make coffee in her kitchen and marvel at how she has grown, one foot in her shoes. How someone that can be related by blood, so instinctual, is always still a stranger. How lovely.
Home is your mother moving into her apartment after six months of living elsewhere after a burset pipe. It is a new space she has crafted with full intention, and it is tidy and airy and ever-so-Scandinavian (she did find a Wegner chair at the thrift store, after all - a sign) and there is a place for everything. You've inherited her face, her small but muscular build, and her anxiety but not her dark hair or her sense of tidiness.
Home is standing and watching the past write itself like a book. You're no longer living it. You're writing it into your narrative - someday, you think, the kids will hear about this. We'll visit and Dad or Mom will tell about this. This. And this. It is crystallizing, even now. I am writing my past, even as I step forward in the next day of my life. The days I shed are multiplying, and there’s my memory, fogging over like a shower window.