Holidays, Birthdays and Distant Longings
My number one follower, advisor and critic assures me that no one will ever read my blog if I’m not more consistent. Part of me agrees -hibernation isn’t all that exciting after all, in bears or in blogs. And anyway, what kind of writer am I if I allow a lack of inspiration to affect motivation? But see, that’s where another part of me disagrees. I could show up day after day, writing with or without direction – but isn’t that what a journal is for? And who in their right mind would want to read such drivel? There might be a pithy observation from time to time, maybe even a juicy bit of personal confession, but for the most part, my internal musings are pretty lame. So, I’m torn. (This isn’t an unusual state for my brain to be in; I spend way more time going back and forth with the voices in my head than I do conversing with live people.) To daily blog or not to daily blog?
Anyway – onward. The holidays are over. Cards have been sent, gifts have been opened, food and alcohol have been consumed. Lauren is back in Maryland, my husband is back at work and I am back in front of the page. And what conjurings appear this 28th day of December? Well, yesterday was my birthday. Though I no longer count the years, I still enjoy the bit about presents and cake. I won’t go into the whole boring spiel about close-to-Christmas birthdays. Suffice it to say it is all true. Growing up, my parents generally marked the occasion of my birth with a Christmas present, wrapped in Christmas paper and handed over on Christmas day. As an adult, things don’t always feel so different. One year, my husband, daughter and I were on vacation and forgot the day entirely. When AOL reminded us, (“Hello Annie! Happy Birthday!”) Billy ran out and bought me a Ho-ho and stuck a match in it. They had to sing really fast to avoid setting the hotel room on fire. Yesterday was better. We went to lunch at my favorite place (Intermezzo in Charlotte.) and then saw a movie. There was no cake (no one understood why the idea of sticking a candle in a three-day old Christmas cupcake upset me), but there were presents, and my daughter, for the first time ever, picked out a card just from her! Nice touch that. Plus, I think she reminded my brother because he remembered for the first time in years. Which is all to say – it’s not the birthday that matters, it’s feeling like people care.
Which brings me to distant longings. Lauren was able to come home for Christmas – the first time she’s been here in close to a year. We had a wonderful time, baking and shopping with my mom, baking and laughing, baking and talking about life. The only downside was not being in Maryland. This wasn’t so bad in itself – Maryland is a bit frightening at any time of year, but especially in December when the sky is a sloping gray and the air is either cold and dry or cold and sodden. What was bad was not being with the rest of our family. Particularly my family. My brother and I have always been close in the way of the troubled children born to troubled parents. Although Eric isn’t one to call or write or even talk to me when I’m in the same room, he is the only other person in this life who can understand my childhood. Nearly two years separate us, but in many ways I feel we are twins. Not in looks – Eric favors the Rizzos while I am Shirley through and through – or temperament. And certainly not in ambition, but in something deeper. Something I can’t even begin to explain. Just hearing his voice can lift, or shatter, my day. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of miles between us – mentally, physically, philosophically. Staying close, loving someone despite distance, is damned difficult. Particularly when that someone would rather kiss a snake than pick up the telephone. I keep at it not only because he is my brother, but also because I have a guilty conscience. Eric has Parkinson’s. I should be there, but I’m not. I’m here where life is sunnier, warmer and easier than it ever was in Maryland.