Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanks, giving (Sic)

A fantasy began in my head shortly after my high school graduation.
I'd be flying in for the holidays with my family, small as it is,
a wife and kids sometimes made their appearance in this internal mirror.
Fireplaces, traditional recipes, fine Kentucky bourbon in the egg nog, mom's pies, and my ever unpredictable Aunt Dorothy all took their places on this set.
This film was never made; could never be made. Not the early death of mom, nor the relationships that never evolved at their proper pace. Not the family home that would always be there, but the reality of flying in this age of scanning and screens, this worldview of instant terror, complex issues made painstakingly simple with the aid of a tabloid mind and a disdain for human kind.
But this year was fun, in it's own way. 21 people focused on each other for an hour and then swirling about one house for three days. 21 people from 2-90 in age. Here's what remains:

ant invasion thwarted before the real cooking begins, 6 year old melts down, Bruce, take out this recycling and trash, where's the beer? How come I can't get online all of a sudden, what time is dinner? 8 year old demands water, now! Detroit Lions are actually winning in the second quarter, Bruce get a turkey roasting pan and rack, and twine for stitching up the turkey (it's 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. How many pizzas will it take? Bruce can you replace these light bulbs... one of the nephews asks me about Portland, forgetting that he's a recovering alcoholic I tell him, among other things, that it's a great town, especially if you like beer. "I liked it too much," he reminds me. No need to stuff the turkey now, just stuff my mouth. Bruce fold these towels, 9 year old trips and falls needs attention. This kid needs a first aid kit around her neck. Detroit loses, again; I really want to duck out the back and go have a drink with some former students who are now in their mid-20s and 30s, window of opportunity slams down when no one moves to do the dishes and I won't let the ants win this round, diswashing and clean up become meditation time. I never forget those less fortunate, out there in sub freezing weather with no family attachment, no certain overnight place, those who experience holidays like this one as a day ling tear drop, waiting for sun up on just a normal...Bruce this garbage needs to be taken out...
On the morning after I meet a friend for coffee and we go to Golden Gate Fields for a couple of hours. I see a few familiar faces, more gray and white hair now. "I couldn't really retire because I need the medical benefits, so I guess I'll just keep working."
My horse wins, but gets DQ'd (bullshit!) and my friend's horse gets the money; so does he. That's O I play one more race and cash a ticket and get ready for the trip home.
Next day, 12 hour drive becomes 14 as we do the chains on chains off? dance up the interstate. The snow falling is beautiful but a cautionary tale...road condition and weather change abruptly. By Ashland, a good meal, place to pee, chance to walk around, better radio station. Gas goes from $3.24 to $2.89 ... By Eugene, a Saturday evening radio show with a stoned wilting flower-child playing Grateful Dead concert recordings from the early 70s, zzzzstaticzzz, she morphs into Portland's Jazz station as far south as Salem....we be-bop into town, over the Ross Island Bridge, up Powell Blvd. over to Division, and around Ladd's Circle and down my street. Leaf picked happened and curb is in sight. Home in time to see Portland now has a Christmas tree bomber. Still, my dental appointment on Tuesday next doesn't look so bad. Scuse me, got to take out the garbage.

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