Friday, July 31, 2009
On Summer Travels, or Lack Thereof
Home is an interesting word. I have always called West Palm Beach, Florida home. No matter where I lived, or how long I lived there, whenever I said I was going home it meant to WPB. Then I got married and we moved to Louisiana. My wife asked me not to call WPB home so that our daughter could more readily adjust to our new family unit, and I agreed since it made sense that wherever the three of us were should be home. But I still slipped from time to time. Since we've returned to the Sunshine State, and since my job allows me a couple of months off each summer, I've gone home for a week or so each year. Then, as most of you know, in December my mom died rather suddenly. Christmas is another time when I get way too much time off, so I would go home for the holidays, or at least some of them. This year was no exception, except that I was surprised to find that I couldn't bear to be home, and left after only a couple of days. In talking to my friends it would seem that I was the only one surprised by this. To borrow an old phrase from Robin Williams, come inside my mind and I'll attempt to explain why I was so surprised.
For most of my adult life I have been a little too self aware. Truly spontaneous emotional responses are somewhat rare, and even on the occasion that I find myself out of control, say when something actually makes me cry, there is a part of my mind sitting back bemused at the tears. In fact anger seems to be the only emotion that takes me unawares these days, and I hate that. But when my mom died...the moment when the hospice nurse said, "she has passed" I burst into tears. I know this is to be expected, but I didn't expect it. During the next week I was so busy with funeral arrangements, obituaries, etc. that I didn't do much mourning, but I did cry at the service. Then we all went home. A couple of weeks later was when I made my abortive attempt to go back home.
Now it's summer again, and I've been free from the shackles of a daily grind for nearly two months, and I have yet to make it home. Granted we did have our week long journey to New England not too long ago, but I have had plenty of time to head south, yet haven't. My air conditioner in my car died several months ago, and it would cost more than the car is worth to fix, and I have been convincing myself that this is the reason I don't want to make the four hour drive. But I have come to realize that I don't think I'm ready to go back yet, and that is even more puzzling to me. My mom and I were on good terms, and I definitely loved her, but we weren't overly close. We all know people whose parents are not just parents, but close friends. You may even be one of those lucky few. I am not. When I did get home I'd see my folks a couple of times, fix some stuff, wash the dog, and that was about it. We'd talk on the phone once a month or so, and email from time to time, and that was normal for us. My mom was never one to wear her emotions on her sleeve, except when she was angry(yeah, I see the pattern too)but we got along fine. So it's not like a trip home would involve being aware of all the time we're not spending together. I just don't understand, but I do know that it would be a mistake to force myself to do something I'm not ready for, so I hope all of you down there understand that, and for once this is the absolute truth, it's not you, it's me. I can't say when I'll be home again, but I know I'll get over this eventually. Please be patient with me and know that I love you all, and I will come home eventually...I just can't say when yet.