I am back! Unfortunately for you… Now you must once again listen to the ramblings of a 27-year-old that enjoys Hemingway and Fitzgerald all while having “Adventure Time” playing in the background.
Holidays are my time of year. I think once you shed that childish skin of naivety about Christmas and the existence of the man with flying reindeer, it becomes something more. It is an exalted ideology of hope and kindness that I find to be intoxicating. I love giving in every form. It is much easier to do so during Christmas time as charities abound at your favorite markets and consumer hotspots for you to donate. I also love doing charity work, however, as I spoke of in an earlier post, individuals are not always about helping when it comes to working with a charitable organization.
Along with the holidays come family. I really do not have a close family. So, this year it was mainly communication via phone with friends and hanging out back in my home town with my mother and Sofie, of course! I felt strange at one point a few days ago. I was at a local steak joint with my mother. We had went out into the bitter cold evening air to meet with my best friends mother for dinner. She and I are pretty close as well and she is a great woman. I was excited to get to speak with her again. She had been an integral part of helping with my mother while she had her heart surgery recently (hence my absence).
So, my mother and I sit in the cold entryway of the southern-esque steakhouse. Hard wood seats line the area and young ladies put on their best fake accents with far too many “y’alls” in the mix. I sit next to my mother in a long section off to the side; it is only us and the only light comes from two large, neon signs that illuminate the darkened hall. It is incredibly loud as fake southern accents welcome person after person that enters. I am perpetually early and this occasion was no different as we were about 45 minutes early. Accross from me, illuminated by blue and red light from the Bud Light sign, is a large barrel of peanuts in the shell. I oblige myself with quite a few as a large group of individuals come in and begin sitting in the voided benches around me.
I sit down and count them: 8
They talk jovially and laugh frequently. My mother doesn’t speak as she finds conversation in public awkward. I decide Candy Crush Saga is the best alternative as I follow suit of discarding the peanut shells on the floor. It felt like, in doing so, I was doing something wrong. I imagined a man in a large hat and overalls holding a broom would come around the corner just as I dumped them in the floor. We would make eye contact just as a tear rolled down his face and I would feel the ultimate “a-hole” shame. Luckily it didn’t happen but the guilt was there. More begin to pour in as I fail once again to pass the level.
I count them: 13
There was an older woman there who was quite beautiful. The kind of beauty that you can tell was timeless. She was beautiful when she was young, she was beautiful in her twenties. Maybe she met her husband then and had two daughters. Then she was a mother in her thirties and still beautiful. Years pass and she ages, as does her beauty. Her face and kind brown eyes give one a view to a past of good things. She looks beautiful and pleasant. Her looks simply changed as we all do but there beneath the lines of worry and laughter that grow over time, you are able to see the beauty of a woman that once was and somehow still is. Somehow she shows beauty from her whole life in each facial expression. A laugh. A smile. A frown. She was someone whom Vermeer would have painted. Placid beauty. My assumption that she seemed to to have been a good person was solidified by a scream.
I count them: 15
Two women come in and scream as they run over to the older woman and hug her, yelling, “Grandma!” I see two women that identify as her daughters and the plague of grandchildren that abounded. They began chattering so loudly I could not help but laugh. They all talked at once and their individual voice became a loud hum as they joined together. They finally got a place to sit and left but I could not help but admire them. At the same time, however, I found their ways quite strange. I never felt like that to see my family. The joy and excitement I heard felt disingenuous to me but it seemed true. How foreign and strange it was.
I count them: 2
I sit and think about my family. Countries divided. Truces not truths. Swords sheathed but hand on the grip. Always one sharpened blade away from war. One comment. One thought expressed wrongly. This is what it means to be related to one another. We are at odds. We are rivals. Progeny fight the fight of those that begot them. I have decided, as expressed in other posts, to lay my sword down with this family. This is their fight, not mine. This is family to me.
However, there was once a man that lived and died a long time ago whom I admired. Biologically he was my cousin but he was more like my brother. He was family. He was my hero.
We eventually meet with my friend’s mother and have a great time but I was plagued by the family that I saw. It made me realize how much I want that but also how much I do not understand what family is.
This is how it was until I saw what was left of my hero.
END OF PART ONE