Sunday, October 15, 2006

Searching for the authentic

When I think of home, I think of walking home from school on a nasty December day in 1979. We'd decorated the house for Christmas the weekend before, and my mother was home that day.

It was about 40 degrees and I'm sure I wasn't dressed for the weather. As I walked through the rain, I saw the little bay window on the front of our house glowing down the street, Christmas lights on even though it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. I walked in the house and it smelled like the pot roast she'd just browned and stuck in the oven. Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, working a crossword or reading a book, or just being Mom.

There are times when I think I'll never be able to recreate that, give myself that feeling again, like no matter what the world is like, at home, I will be thoroughly warmed and loved and OK. No matter how terrific my life is - and it's pretty terrific - there's always someone I'm failing.

I am lonesome for that day, sometimes. I feel bereft, the past a beloved country from which I've been expelled.

But then there are times when I come close, when I give that kind of feeling to myself and to C, and it's just as good -- or almost.

Just as good would be Mom sitting here at the kitchen table with me and C, our funky old-house lights doing their foggy golden best to give us enough light to work by while a roast slow-cooks in the oven, with garlic and the last of the fresh herbs from our garden making a garland of good smells around our house, my stepdad out buying a forgotten loaf of bread and some beer. With all the dogs of our lives sitting around at our feet, waiting for table scraps.

But almost as good comes close enough today. We've got everything but the parents (and the dogs of years past): I am making a roast, and the entire house smells like beef and garlic and fresh herbs from the garden. The kitchen timer is ticking away companionably, accompanying Billie Holliday on the radio in the kitchen, and Bill and I are sitting in the dining room, under the dim glow of that funky light fixture, working on our stuff, occasionally scatting. And let me tell you, I am in heaven.

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