Drop #20: Back Home

I’m back home for the holidays. As we drive around picking up cranberry sauce and sausage and pie from the respective places that do them best, my parents point out houses of friends and colleagues, and acquaintances who had an affair go public, lost a son in a car crash, or suffered some or other misfortune. They also point out the places of people I once knew, only some of which I remember by name, even fewer by face.

My parents are enthusiastic, filling in back stories and adding little descriptions, but their accounts have little value. They could be showing me any place, and anyone could be inside; I wouldn’t know any better or ever recognize the driveways, hedges, gates or brown and beige walls again. Even if these places, and the people inside them are real, here, the truth is nothing but a hollow haze.

On the highway, they turn the radio so loud – they do the same with TV and stereo in the house – and I long aggressively for the soft sadness of my own music, in my own apartment, even though this last month alone there was so bleak.

I never enjoy visiting but this time it’s even tougher. They’re always trying to make me happy with things I don’t want when I’d be so much happier without the constant burden of false appreciation. They take me to a three star restaurant even though I have never enjoyed meals in fancy places. I think it has something to do with tone, or expectation.

At home, the food they proudly serve is also not what I eat anymore: ham and eggs for breakfast; burgers, hotdogs and sloppy joes for lunch; chicken or steak with potatoes for dinner. No salad; no fruit. And they’ve gone out of their way to get the things I used to like: chocolate milk, brands of chips and cookies, ice cream. As if I was still 15. As if nothing had happened to me since. Nothing that changes one.

Every time we eat I think of the wild rice salad Eric and I came up with and ate variations of so often. I think about our marinated eggplant too. And then I think about how my parents never even met him.

Three days before I’m set to leave they invite over some friends with a daughter I knew when I was twelve, and met again three times since. They’re trying to set me up as they do every time I’m back home. She’s pretty – she always was – but I’m not interested, and the whole thing is really something I could do without.

I take a train and a bus back to Philly: where I live, and he still lives. Again, time to think. I always suspected you only get one true love in a lifetime whether long or short, requited or not, but now I have no doubt about it. I also know, without any doubt, that I have just lost mine.

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

5 Responses to Drop #20: Back Home

  1. This is lovely, so bittersweet and sad. But maybe he’ll get his one true love back now he recognises what he lost.

  2. eeektwitter says:

    I have a good story along this line. Maybe I should pass on for you to write it.

  3. The going-home sadness when your parents no longer understand and have turned into strangers. Or maybe they had always been strangers. I was never sure…

    Wonderful, thoughtful post.

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