Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Message from the Land Down Under

Gee, what does the daughter from the other side of the world get her parents for their anniversary? A post that makes both of them cry, of course! Enjoy. 

Happy anniversary lovebirds

I usually do this earlier. I usually do it better and longer and with more forethought. I usually do it from my Portland home and I usually start thinking about it months in advance. All of those things changed, so why not the theme? I once celebrated my mom and dad's anniversary with a blog post featuring, not only profound words and flattery, but also pictures of my parents over the years. In order to not repeat myself, (perish the thought) this time I am including a collection depicting our family.

You know how you can visit a city you've been to before and think it's gorgeous? You'd never get tired of those mountains and you'd go to that beach every day and you'd go camping every weekend. Then there are those days when you realize that people look at YOUR city that way and for just a second, that light bulb that lives between our ears bursts into Frankenstein life. (It's ALIVE! It's ALIVE!) All of a sudden YOU are looking at those mountains, that beach and those woods and wondering how you'd possibly forgotten all that was there.

The answer? We get used to it. You think everybody who lives in Hawaii must spend every day swimming, but there are many islanders there that never dip their toes at all. You think the cornstalks of Indiana are boring compared to the lumpy, mountain-strewn Midwest? Live there awhile and you forget those distant peaks. Your vision ends at the edge of your car, your fingers, your cell phone......

Until somebody turns on your light-bulb.

It is a cliche that kids go out to their friends houses and come home wishing their parents were more like their friends parents. "Why don't you let us watch TV all the time? Caleb's mom lets him!" "Why can't we walk down to the park by ourselves? Lucy's mom lets her!" It happens. I've seen it happen to my sister and I've seen it happen to my friends. How many times did I have people over and they saw how laid back my mom and dad were, how they put on awesome movies, ordered pizza, ran and got bagels the morning after sleepovers? They saw this and then they went home raving, yes, raving, because it wasn't just the food or the movies. My parents treated everybody that came in the house as equal to themselves. They asked questions. They showed interest. They joked around with them where they could. They made each and every friend of mine feel like they belonged at our dinner table, that they were welcome.

I can name three friends off the top of my head that went home to their parents, (whom they already had difficult relationships with) and wished they were still my place. I felt sad for them, but grateful for me and mine. Never once in my life have I wanted any parents but my own. They've shaped me and with the exception of a few pounds here and there, I like my shape.

I think my family had our light-bulbs turned on a couple days ago. My parents and my brothers went to see the first ever documentary on homeschooling. It inspired endless conversations, debates, predictions, and eve thank you's from the children to the parents. The film got us looking in at ourselves through a window made up of social conventions, had us wiping away the silly cultural definitions of "family" and seeing us for what we are.

Not lucky.

I say "not lucky" because I don't believe in luck. Our family is what it is because of the people who are in it. "Luck" may have played a hand in my parents meeting, but that's not what had them calling each other and saying all the yes's that then domino-ed to the creation of me. Luck did not give my mom the guts to call my dad. Luck did not urge my father to say "okay, I'll bite" in response to the suggestion of a date. Luck isn't responsible for the closeness between my brothers and I, that's homeschooling and love, two things our parents dished out. Luck didn't give me my best friend of a mom, who I would go running to no mater what chased me, be it a Huntsman spider, a nightmare or future-inspired fears. And damn right that luck isn't to be thanked for my mom and dad still being together. THEY did that. They are STILL doing that. I don't know how they do it, but I know "special" is the sticker that should be slapped on it.

Being on the other side of planet earth, I get to look in at my family from afar. I get to see, just a little bit, what they look like to the rest of the world. You know what I see?

We're a little nuts.

Alright, maybe we're an entire handful of nuts.

Okay fuck it. You could make an entire jar of peanut butter out of us.

But we like it. You only tease the ones you love and in this family, we adore each other. We're friends. How many families can say that? Maybe not all of us are best friends and maybe some of us don't spend as much time together as we used to. Maybe there is the exception of my sister and maybe there my travels to consider. We're still special. We're still amazing. Ask any one of us and we'll all tell you the only place to be for Christmas, the only RIGHT place to be for Christmas, is home.

They say home is where the heart is. Nope. Home is where you are loved and you know what I know without a doubt? My siblings and I were loved before we were named. We were loved before we were ever held or our genders known. We were loved when all we were, were kicks and heartbeats. We were loved when we were just a realization and a light in a couples eyes. We were loved before that even, when we were just a figment of the future, to marvel at and dream about the same way teenagers do getting their license or buying a drink. How amazing and sort of ridiculously weird is it that we kids were loved before we existed?

It's a crazy kind of magic is what it is.

Because if we've always been loved, we've always been home.

And if we've always been home, we've always been loved.

And you could attribute that magic to so many things. You could link it to homeschooling. After all, consider all those hours spent together rather than at a desk in a school. Consider being taught by your brothers and your sisters as much as your mom and dad. Consider the lack of bullies and humiliation, the absence of clicks and social ranking and having the opportunity to build who you are with the people who saw you start at square one. You could also link our special magic to both parents being at home most our lives, which would be educational for the children entering into the age of job-hunting and life-managing. You could link it perhaps to living in Portland, the land of the open minded and the all-accepting.

 But you know what we kids attribute it to? What Caspian and Coryn and me all think when it comes to how we are the way we are? Why our window is so much nicer to live behind than others? Why our friends peer in and wish they could turn thief and steal the glass? Want to know what the boys and I think is responsible for our lives, our childhoods, and thus, for the way we intend to craft our own children's lives?

Yep, you guessed it. I know it really wasn't very hard.

Mom and dad.

I remember taking this shadowy photo. It was at Maupin this year. I was coming back from the restroom and saw everybody grouped up around the lantern, reading. The combination of the books, the grouping close together, the lantern-light and the was too magical not to capture. And even though it goes against what I was saying earlier, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the feeling of being lucky.

My dad, a true atheist and evolutionist at heart, has stated many times that humans weren't meant to give birth alone, grow up alone, live alone or die alone. Humans were meant to live together, mostly for survival, true. With my family though, I felt like we were our own clan.

Mom-you're my best friend in the world. You're one of the things I am most proud of. I hold you right up there with my having self-published books, published a real one and having traveled the world. That's how high you are on the list of My Living a Happy Life. When I had that nightmare a few days ago, there was that inevitable few seconds when my eyes opened and I wasn't sure it wasn't true. For a flash, for a second, for one tick of eternity's clock, I thought the world existed with me in it and you not. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my lifetime, but once I heard your voice, the world was okay again. I don't know how you do it, but you always manage to make everything okay. Is it too sappy to say you're the North Star that keeps me from getting lost and always steers me back? It is? Okay, then let's just say I want to be the kind of mom you are and were, but with you standing at my side just to make sure.

Dad-you know how worried I get about finding a man who can be my husband, who can provide and protect and father. I want you to know that I blame you for the bar being set so high! I need my husband to take care of me the way you take care of mom, the way you hold her and make things better, be it pain of the skin or pain in the thoughts. I want a husband with your kind of heart, who sees the good in people FIRST. I want a guy who sees a human in need and rushes over with jumper cables because that's who you are. I want a husband that if one of his kids is nervous or upset, he hugs her and there is nothing safer than those arms. You are the most human man I know dad.

 Know one thing I would never say about my parents? I would never wish them the fairy-tale ending of riding off into the sunset. If you've met my parents, if you've even just seen pictures of them together, you know that they're getting their sunset every day of their lives.

1 comment:

Ami said...

What a lovely tribute to some amazing people.
Really enjoyed all the photos, too. :)