The Circle Game

i love my children.

Not just because 10 million years of biology has programmed me to care for, and protect, my offspring to assure proliferation of my genetic code. Come to think of it, that certainly is a factor… but not the primary factor.

i love them because they are smart, funny, thoughtful and good citizens of earth.

With the holidays, they were both able to visit for about a week.  First, The Boy arrived – stepping off a flight at midnight, completely soused, having learned the joys of holiday travel with a military haircut.  People just love buying drinks for our servicemen, even when not in uniform.

On Christmas day, the two of us headed for the airport to retrieve The Girl arriving from across the Atlantic.  A happy reunion, with a stop near The Trailer Park to pay respects at Mom’s grave.

We enjoyed a great visit, they had places to go, friends to visit, and spent time with their dad and his wife.  They spent time wrangling the manimals, eating shitty food, and yakking late into the night.  The Girl did a bit of shopping, as she needed to take 100 pounds* of America back to Turkey.  The Boy farted around with his pod of sk8rboyz.

As it got closer to departure time, they were ready to go home.

The Girl has a job, a serious boyfriend and a life back in Turkey.  The Boy has made some incredible friends in the Army, and it was clear that he missed them and his routine.

i had to smile with complete understanding, and just a bit of melancholy.  i remember that feeling…

When i was married, we’d make an annual trip to visit my in-laws.  People i genuinely adored!  Since they were 1,000 miles away, we’d spend a week.  They made an effort to keep us entertained, with excursions and adventures so we wouldn’t get bored, but we were often just happy to hang out and visit.  But after about four or five days, i was absolutely itchy to get on the road and get home.


i remember when i left home – 18 years old, leaving for university, and knowing…. KNOWING that i’d never go back.  Not because my parents were bad, or i’d had a horrible experience, but because i wanted my life to be my own.  Of the four of us, i was the only one that never ‘bounced back’.

When i’d visit my old home – now the home that houses my niece and her family – it was comfortable and ‘known’ in a way, but it was never my home again.  There were only a few weeks i stayed – maybe in the summer after my first year of university.  A few nights spent in the recliner in the living room, looking after Mom in later years.  But i never went back… i loved it, but didn’t miss it.

While my children will always find a sense of comfort coming to visit – wherever i may be – it will never be their home again.  As a minimum, they’ll stop by to eat my food, drink my booze and wrangle my critters….

There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through…**


* It’s less expensive to check an extra bag than to ship. i’d say most of the weight was bourbon and peanut butter…

** Joni Mitchell.  The Circle Game.  A song i did at open mic nights when i was 20, thinking “wow, this is, like, sooooo deep.”  Now when i do it, i can’t finish without breaking down in tears…

They go round and round…

My first reaction was mild irritation.  Why couldn’t i have cleared the oncoming school bus before the red flashing lights came on, forcing me to stop?  Since i was returning to the office following a mid-afternoon appointment, i decided I wasn’t really in a hurry, and went back to sorting the ‘to-do’ list in my head.
An older man stood patiently at the end of the driveway, waiting for the bus to dispatch a child.  Slightly rounded of spine, he was maybe in his mid- to late-sixties.  i looked again to see if it was a “special needs” bus for disabled students – wondering just how long i’d be sitting there if the wheelchair ramp had to deploy.  Relieved as the emerging child bounded down the bus steps.  He was a gangly thing, somewhere around 10 years old.
My irritation was soon replaced  by amusement.
As soon as the boy hopped from the last step, the old man turned and sprinted toward the front door – a foot race!  The kid went full out, cutting Grandpa no slack.  But Grandpa showed game, using his height advantage and stretching to full stride.  They were neck-and-neck, as the bus pulled away from the curb, blocking my view of the finish line.  i rolled onwards. 
For the remainder of the drive, my ‘to-do’ list was nowhere to be found – replaced by a flood of memories. 
The way it felt to step off the bus on a sunny spring day and race down a driveway that seemed to be miles long.  Watching my son and his friends execute games with complex rules only they understood in little-boy war games.  Putzing around the house, seeing my daughter spend hours at her “art table”, humming tunes to herself as she made magic with glitter, glue and odd piles of colored paper.  In the backyard, my Dad patiently teaching me how to throw a football in a perfect spiral.  The endless feel of a summer afternoon, floating on a raft in Lake Erie while my son tried out his new swim gear – perfecting the art of blowing snorkel-water on his old lady.  Squeals from the family room at midnight, as my daughter and her friends giggled their way through a sleep-over party.
Memories of my childhood.  Memories of their childhood.  Swirled together – the same way i still mush up my cake and ice cream at birthday parties.
Simply from a glimpse into the daily ritual of a man and his grandson…  i was uncharacteristically cheerful all afternoon.