Friday, November 7, 2008

coming home

I’m going to preface this with a little bit of backstory about my father. We have a difficult relationship. My dad has strong personality traits which drive me nuts. I am aware that I share similar tendencies, which I don’t like in myself either. The underlying problem is that, as the only female offspring, I am forever “Daddy’s little girl” and nothing I say or do will ever change that. He considers sheltering me from everything to be an expression of love, whereas I am constantly fighting to prove myself.

So I don’t spend much time at my parents’ house in order to preserve peace in the family. But I was back earlier in the fall to collect the stuff I had in storage and get my teeth cleaned and do a bunch of other errands. It was a gorgeous fall day – cool, dry weather, and the leaves were just starting to turn.

When I was driving over, I noticed that some of the houses were festooned with toilet paper. Now I don’t know how widespread the practice is, but where I went to high school, this wasn’t vandalism. Sports teams would TP teammates’ houses for various reasons; for example, if you win a big game. The team I was on in high school would TP the houses of the freshmen near the beginning of the fall season and later on the freshmen would help TP the houses of the captains and maybe the graduating seniors. So for me, driving around my old hometown in the fall is a wonderfully evocative time.

So, I came back late at night and was planning on running all my errands the next day. I got woken up the next morning by the smell of cinnamon buns. My dad was cooking them with most of them put in the dish upside-down (hey, they all end up in the same place in the end). He rescued them from the oven after they started to brown (he never did figure out the kitchen timer) and we shared a big plate of cinnamon buns, just the two of us.

I would like to think that as I get older and more experienced, I am more able to appreciate “moments of grace”, rather than getting totally cynical. Every once in a while when I’m in the field, I make a conscious effort to step back and appreciate that I love being outside, doing something that I’m good at, even though I could find a million things that irritate me.


Silver Fox said...

That's a moving story, about your dad and the cinnamon buns. And it's definitely better when I, too, can remember not to get irritated or cynical, but to appreciate the "little things" that are around every day.

Anonymous said...

There is an expression that says: "You can never truly go home." Its message is that, once you have become an adult, you will not see your home and parents in the same way ever again. As I have gotten older, I have learned that what I thought was an expression mourning the days of old, has a silver lining. That lining is that when you see your family with adult eyes, it humanizes them. Old wrongs, while still meaningful and the source of pet peeves, do not have the sting they used to. Learning that your parents are human and that their mistakes are forgivable can allow you too step back and truly enjoy being home.