I decided this weekend to take a trip to visit my hometown this weekend. See my family in a non-holiday setting. Hang out with them as people in a somewhat less stressful environment.
I always had assumed that the reason I didn’t like going home was because of the hustle and bustle. I love my family dearly but having moved away when I was 21, I’ve lived in a different state than them since. Sometimes with 600 miles between us, sometimes 3,000. Still, I did my due diligence and would come home for all the major holidays and visit. Them coming to visit me – well, let’s just say that with one person it is much easier to travel to them. And I didn’t really mind.
The last time I was here was 4th of July. Always a big barbecue with lots of family members and friends. Good food and fun fireworks. The least-stressful of all the holidays. The time before that was Christmas.
Oh, Christmas. My most favorite part of the year. And yet, when I’m around my family, I can’t wait for it to end fast enough.
I’m the oldest of four, and with all of the nephews and nieces and children of our own, spouses and granchildren, you would think we were trying to invade a small country. There are so many people. Then you add into the mix the fact that there are always several orphans–family friends who have nowhere else to go and probably use our family for fodder or amusing stories at their AA meetings — and the population grows exponentially.
Then you take all of those people and cram them into a room designed for 5, 6 at the most –and it becomes CHAOS. By this isn’t a post about Christmas, which I can share with you another day. This is actually a post about just a normal run-of-the-mill family visit. I’ll save the Christmas horror stories for another day.
No, this visit was to get out of Seattle, spend some quality time with my siblings and reconnect as adults.
I arrived off the plane and my brother instantly went into offend or defense mode -I’m not 100% sure. He’s always called me the favorite. I don’t see it that way. But I do see myself as the one who got out. Anyway, he started making some off-color comments about Caitlin Jenner out of the blue, with no real segue. When I was home for the 4th he did it as well. I bit my tongue and moved on.
The next thing was getting home and going to breakfast with my mom and my stepdad. We went out, and after being told that my brother wouldn’t be joining us, my brother decided to because hey free food and let me show up and try to compete Ina competition that doesn’t exist.
Not that I minded him being there, but I was looking forward to seeing my folks and having real-life conversations with them about things, vacations, life. My sister showed up as well and it was a fine conversation.
Then my brother left without a word and was gone. Okay, so maybe his mechanism to deal with the fact that I’m in town is to pretend I’m not in town and go on. Not that my brother and I really have anything to talk about.
I don’t really consider myself that smart. The app on my phone said I’ve got a higher IQ than most people and what does that have to do with the tea in China? Nothing. Nothing at all. I’m realistic enough to know that while I have gotten out of the rut that everyone else seems to be, there’s still so much to be learned.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the curiosity factor of my life– the wanderlust, the desire to continue to try new things, to not be stuck in the same old thing day in and day out. To stimulate my brain.
Here, it feels as though time has stood still. As though if there were a jug of moonshine and a telegraph machine sitting in the corner, everyone would be perfectly content, with the only thing to talk about is each other.
I love my family. I really do. But I think this blog post is coming out of the fact that I don’t really relate to them. I’m pleasant and everything but I don’t have anything to contribute to their gabbing about who got drunk and who slept with who and this is how you should raise your child and so on and so forth.
They are all in each other’s business so much that it’s unhealthy. My mom’s phone rang 13 times on a short seven minute drive. Why? Why is that so necessary?
Sometimes I wish we were closer, that I didn’t feel something that I’m having a hard time describing—because I don’t want to write the word. Ashamed maybe? Wishing they could set their sights on something better? Set their sights for the stars and even if they don’t make it at least they have the moon and all of the new, wonderful possibilities that opportunity presents.
And yet — I’m grateful to go back home to my life. My bed. My things. My world view where we talk about things and dream about ideas instead of the day-to-day minutiae of what someone said or what a spouse said.
This home for me is never really relaxing. I always feel as though I’m on guard, needing to be ready to defend myself at a moment’s notice. I don’t agree with some of their more conservative views – and it’s not even conservative for church’s sake. No, no, no. We were not brought up religious at all.
No, it’s more that they are conservative because they are uninformed. The world is a big place and there’s a lot goin on but they wouldn’t know it because it feels like this is the biggest place in the world where only the happenings here are of importance.
All of this sounds rather elitist. And it’s really not meant to. I love my family with all my heart and only want them to be happy. I wish they could see past the ends of their noses to everything that is happening out there — but in the end, if they are happy being cocooned into their own secluded world, then I hope they are fulfilled. Perhaps I need to get over myself and just let them be. And maybe it’s all right that we have nothing to talk about. That we have nothing in common. That our worldand life experiences are vastly different except for that shared experience of growing up together.
I wanted out. They never wanted to leave.
In the end, nothing will change, except a few small things: I will set different boundaries for my own sanity, and hopefully continue to practice patience. I’m not going to change them, and they are not going to change me.
Static electricity. That’s the best way to describe this functionally dysfunctional family of mine.