To the place, to the place

December 15, 2006

Okay, I haven’t had a whole lot of minutes to spend on the computer since arriving in Battle Creek, so if I am going to get at least one update in while I’m in the not so snowy north I better do it now. We’ve just gotten home from our annual family pig out, oh I meant Christmas party (actually surprisingly slimmed down this year–the main entree was build your own subs with materials from Subway and Quizno’s and the only real dessert going was cookies, rather than a dozen kinds of cakes, pies, and Swiss Colony truffles). The voluminous leftovers are safely fridged and Mom is re-settled in the recliner with a romance novel to unwind before her 8pm appointment with (so sorry LCB!) Ghost Whisperer. In the meantime, Mannheim Steamroller has clicked into place on the 8 disk changer. I think all 8 disks might be Mannheim Steam… wait, I am dead wrong. It’s not the CD changer, it’s the Mannheim Steamroller channel on the fam’s obese digital cable package. (I exaggerate–it’s a seasonal channel that’s having Mannheim Steamroller hour.)

We got in Wednesday night after a spacious nonstop flight on our airline of choice, AirTran. There were only 15 people onboard so we all stretched out. I didn’t take them up on their XM radio and opted to focus my attention on The Worst Hard Time, one of the nonfiction NY Times picks, about the Dust Bowl. Pretty sad, but of course well written and full of historical nooks and crannies that I never would have dreamed existed. After spending last weekend in the gusting December winds of Cape Cod and trying to imagine just how the Pilgrims and other early colonizers managed to stick it out sans heat, sans ceiling, sans just about everything, I’m now also wondering how the sodbusters kept going despite the hardship and general lack of civilization.

We got into Detroit right on time, and my sister (T) picked us up. We headed to a fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant (talking about roasted garlic spread and unlimited fresh pita bread) in Dearborn along with her new boyfriend, an engineer for Ford named JM. JM is 29, and my sis is 22, but so far they seem well matched. They met on a 400 odd mile bike ride from Lansing to Mackinac Island and their first date was a 5k. ‘Nuff said. He seems really intelligent and thoughtful, and I am ready to declare him the best sis BF so far by far. He reminds me a lot of our Hollywood type friend WA. I’m already cheering for them to work out a way through the perilous next year of their relationship, when T will probably be headed down to Miami to start her life as a high powered accountant. He’s weighing options and leaning toward law school, but he won’t have his LSATs done in time to meet U of Miami’s deadline so it might be kind of tough to prevent at least one year of long distance. Still, I’m pulling for them. This guy gives me a good vibe.

Yesterday we pretty much toured the town. I took Daniel and my mom by both of the city’s libraries (one of them is brand new and absolutely gorgeous) and I was recognized in both of them. Yes, it’s a small town this BC. We did some last minute shopping and got Daniel a haircut by the family stylist as well. We were hoping to meet up with my best BC friend JB, but her fiance came down with some kind of stomach bug. I hope she hasn’t caught it too, because I’d really like to see her before we fly back. I’d like to see him too, as it feels totally wrong not to have met my bosom friend’s intended.

Today was the party. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it was a somewhat slimmed down affair but still quite enjoyable. And heavily populated. T brought her J, and brother R brought his new girlfriend TG. (Wow, if these people stick around in their lives they are going to need some better pseudonyms. I haven’t pseudonymed a sibling’s significant other since Yoko, the 28 year old Japanese harlot who stole my then 18 year old brother’s innocence.) Looks like JM survived his introduction to my crazy crazy family. I put D on Dad duty, making sure that the latter was occupied at all times and thus never able to corner JM in one of his endless rants or back in my programming days stories. TG held her own and seems to have a pretty good grasp on how to handle my brother, which is reassuring. Having been raised in the almost exclusive company of women, R doesn’t really know how to deal if he doesn’t have some female or other bossing him through the basic tasks of life.

The real highlight of the party, though, was just seeing Mom up and around and so full of energy. She was up wrapping and phoning and taking inventory of food she had promised to bring just like she always used to. Last year at this time, she was headed into the hospital for what became a five month stay. The Christmas before that wasn’t too pretty either. Looking at her now, even if it seems she has aged ten years in the space of two, it’s hard to believe that the last time I was in town… well, I’ll spare you the details, but it was a depressing time. It’s not that things are perfect now, or even that I entirely believe that she’s better off than she would have been if she had never had the gastric bypass surgery, but I am so grateful that she is finally able to have a normal Christmas again. Her energy really seems to be focused on enjoying her time with the family, so maybe this time she’s got something to put in the place that food used to be. That would be a wonderful gift both for her and those of us who worry about her.

In poodle news, there’s another one. She’s a standard size, just like Molly the Doc Marten devouring wonder, but this one is black and five months old. Her name is Pepper and she likes to jump up and down. A lot. I miss my cats.

It’s good to come back to Michigan in gray snowless times like these, because it’s always so clear to me why I left. The Subway where we picked up the sandwiches for the party was filled with men in stone washed jeans and Carhartt type jackets, talking about how many beers they need for this weekend’s hunting trip and how much salt the driveway will take. The grass is dead, the trees are empty, and I haven’t seen the sun since we were above the clouds getting ready circle into Detroit. It seems so small here, and so falling apart now that the economy’s taken a dive. There are plenty of houses that need a coat of paint and will likely keep needing it. When I talk to people, they talk about their jobs and their cars just like everyone, but they don’t seem to refer to a world outside of Michigan. They don’t seem to imagine living anywhere else, and probably they don’t want to. Then again, at Christmas time it’s also clear to me that I left behind more than the weather. Nowhere else will ever have people that taught me to tie my shoes and conducted my first band concert. Nowhere else will have JB and her family and her mother’s kitchen that I still remember getting flour and baking soda all over during a particularly misguided attempt to bake chocolate chip cookies. I’ll go to church on Sunday and see those who have literally known me since I was a baby. They’ll ask me, as I have already been asked several times, if I’m planning on staying in Florida, and I’ll say something about the cost of real estate and something about having a flexible degree and leave it well enough at that. The truth of the matter is, while I can imagine, vaguely, moving north, it’s impossible to imagine moving back here, and in my heart of hearts I want it to stay that way. I want Battle Creek to exist forever as a place I visit as a native daughter. If I return to a small midwestern world, I think I would at least need it to be a different one. It’s like I already know how everything here turns out. I know who I’d be friends with and just how I would grit my teeth through years of good hearted holiday preparations. It’s probably my lack of well-adjustedness concerning my own mortality talking. Maybe it would be different once I was raising my own children, but that’s what it feels like it would be now. Of course I have no idea what the future holds. It may be visits to Michigan and it may be something else. I know I’ll always be a Michigander in some sense, even without the direct presence of snow. Listening to Sufjan is a pretty good approximation for the time being.

Signing off for the night, I’m happy and full of cookies but not too many, with my heart in a tangle as it has been for the past few years whenever I walk the hallways of this house and listen to my parents’ snores (yes, already, 8:48 pm–not working has given them a certain liberty with sleep schedules) in not the bedroom but the living room where they now sleep almost every night in their recliners with the television still on. The hallway walls are filled with pictures, more so now than when I lived here I think. I have to turn on a light to see them, which I usually try to avoid because in the dark I can ignore a lot of dust and half unpacked boxes that have floated from room to room since my dad moved back in after having been laid off. This trip I’ve been turning on the lights anyway. Most of the pictures date from when I was 4 or 5 and R &T were 2 or 3. My parents look so young. We smile. There’s one with a swing set and one with a pumpkin patch. What happened? What will? Have we ever really been qualified to judge whether this is the best of times or the worst?


One Response to “To the place, to the place”

  1. DenzelWdar Says:

    Good evening, Did you have a happy hallowen? !

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