Can I Go Home Again?
February 17, 2012
I have been fortunate during the past few months. I have been home. Traveling from my “new” home to my “old” home is often difficult to do given the circumstances of any given time period. By “new” I am referring to all places that are NOT where I grew into an adult somewhat preparing for life’s plans and surprises. “New” refers to those places in which I have resided since removing all photos, posters, prints and other memory-evoking paraphernalia from my childhood room. I haul, well to be honest here, my husband hauls these boxes of items to live with me in another abode. Wherever they sit, that is my new residence.
The last few trips I have taken to my childhood residence have been on my own, no husband, no children. Though they were missed, the experience was utterly nurturing and age-defying.
Mom and Dad met me at National, D.C.’s “home” airport, which sits along the Potomac and across from Crystal City. National it will forever be to me. The new moniker, Reagan National will just never, ever feel correct. Not exactly an age-defying comment there. Regardless, they spotted me before I them. When I did lay my eyes upon their oh so familiar body stances and beautiful, expressive eyes, both were holding their coffee. Dad lifted his arm to flag me down. The first snapshot of the trip home is this. A most welcome shot to be sure and a photo op I have imprinted in my brain.
I had been the last passenger off of the plane. Towards the back, I decided that rushing to stand, as if an exit was CLOSE at hand or somehow I would move beyond the man going to the Wizards game five rows ahead, were not events which would occur. So I relaxed. Funny how passengers, me among them, unbuckle and attack mobile phones as soon as the plane is safely taxiing to its gate. It is as though the door to exit will only be open for a very short time as is true on trains. Restless many seem. As well there exist the seasoned travelers. As the flying machine relies on wheels more than wings as it hits the tarmac, some frequent fliers do not jump to their possibly swollen feet. They have learned they will be offered the opportunity to disembark. I decided that I was at that moment properly seasoned.
With nerves of excitement and the anxiety of anyone anticipating the sight of her Mom and Dad, I did begin to lose my physical and mental balance so to speak. I left one small package in my seat pocket and proceeded to stumble as I went to retrieve it. Once retrieved, I dropped it. After claiming the uncooperative item, I readjusted and expressed myself with a short nervous laugh. By that point I had blocked two people who were waiting to clean for the next flight. I sensed a bit of irritation on their parts at having to wait for me to collect myself. Eventually, I left the plane proper.
Luggage, dirty from previous adventures, and nerves of excitement in tow, I sat in the back seat of their car. Mom had tried to get me to sit in the front passenger seat, as she often does being the polite person she is. The front is a treat. (I managed to beat her to the back at any rate.)
Dad at the wheel, we drove down the George Washington Parkway. The ride itself was much like a road moving back through time and found me brushing aside tears. These were tears of much happiness when visualizing my years growing and marrying in this part of Virginia and D.C. Each time I pass Oronoco Street, I look down it to view the Robert E. Lee Boyhood Home. Our wedding reception had been held in the house and garden. Passing familiar haunts of college and high school days, the memories came fast and furiously. A particular bus stop holds a vivid memory, one of a new teenager allowed the freedom and responsibility of riding the bus to JCPenney’s and back home again with her best friend. I hope she holds the same fondness for those trips.
Once in the driveway, after lunch at Gatsby’s Tavern, I readied myself for the familiar sounds and sights in my parents’ home. I prepared to soak in every smell. The feel of the doorknob and the weight of the front door itself as I entered immediately had me time traveling. The aroma of furniture polish and of Brunswick stew could not have made me feel more secure. My eyes fell upon mail collected earlier in the day on the dining room table and my Mom set her purse there as well. Dad removes his hat and takes his keys to his office. Mom wants to know if I would like a glass of tea or if I’d rather split a coke. She smells of original Oil of Olay. She owns that fragrance. Not another soul can wear it as she does.
Dad, without fail, heads to his computers and logs onto websites that speak a mathematical language that flies right over my head. Satellite communication sites, solar weather sites and others that speak volumes to many, but leave me somewhere in the ionosphere, take turns on his screens. As well, one or the other turns on the television set – the news. All seems to be local news in the D.C. metro area, including what is known as national in other locales.
At some point in my re-acclimation, I run up to my old room. I am not sure of the number of steps from the entryway to the second floor, but I take them in the same manner I did for the entirety of my youth, and many times since I have moved away. (I do not favor the way that sounds – “moved away.” Sounds at once blunt and final. Let’s change that to “moved my stuff.” It is somewhat reminiscent of the George Carlin comedy bit about stuff and having too much of it. That I can handle more easily; funny and helps me separate.) I do take the stairs in a particular fashion. The jumps are a choreography of sorts. First I begin with a bit of a run always leaving the ground on the same foot. I skip a step or two, land with a particular foot, skip again and so on. I actually cannot recite the method; I just need to be there and do it. As innate as dancing it is.
Once in my bedroom I unpack, then feel as if I am 12 years old. I relish hearing the household noises, the footsteps of my parents. The mumbled words between Mom and Dad downstairs, the indiscernible speech of the tv news, the unique voice of each door as my parents move throughout the house are comforting, as if I am blanketed by all that is safe, peaceful and reassuring.
If I listen closely, I can hear the cars just a block away passing over the concrete separations of the George Washington Parkway. Years ago I fell asleep to that rhythmic music. Yes. Yes, I actually can go home again, if only for one lyrical dance up the stairs.