Going home for the holidays is an exercise in memory-keeping for me. Here is the living room where we opened countless Christmas gifts. Here is the garage step that used to wobble and make my heart stop when I descended. Here is the closet where Grandma always kept her sewing kit, the drawer that keeps all the old pictures.
My nostalgia extends to my husband’s family, where the memories are newer for me, but no less poignant. We watch a fiftieth wedding anniversary video, compiled of snapshots and moving music. The black and white photos and the life stories they bookmark fill my eyes with tears. These are other people’s memories, yet my throat catches as I watch with people who remember them.
We come home, my mind and heart filled with family and love and a little bit of desperation to get away from the fullness of living rooms and kitchens and back to my own spaces and the present.
I look in the mirror and there I am. I have color treated hair not for style, but to cover the white that is swiftly taking over. It intrigues me. My mother’s hair is white. My grandfather’s hair was white for years before he died. I am carrying the torch for white haired people in my family.
But, no. My hair is brown. All those pictures. I have brown hair. I am the only daughter in my family, the girl who got the tip of her thumb cut off in the garage door when she was three, the one who got lost at the Farm Show. The one who looked more like her cousins than her own brother. I have brown hair. Now everyone says I look like my mother.
I feel like I did in my parents’ house growing up, but the mirror reflects a different person. My memories do not match the image I see. Today my neck hurts almost constantly, a pain from some over-zealous exercising done almost a year ago. The girl in my memories has no pain. As a kid I don’t remember feeling pain, nor hunger, nor cold. Yet I tell my kids to eat, be careful, put on a coat, you’ll catch a cold.
When did this happen? In my mind I am me. Out of my mind I am their mother, his wife, their daughter, their sister, their friend. To them I am out of my mind. To me I am me.
It’s just life, they say. It happens to everyone.
I guess it does.
|Once a brooder, always a brooder.|