Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Haunted by my past selves

I went home for Thanksgiving. Perhaps that doesn't seem like a noteworthy thing - people do it all the time, I know. But for me, well, it had been since undergrad.

I don't particularly like Thanksgiving. I love the idea of being grateful, and I try to be so every day. I love food (if not turkey and stuffing so much) and I am fortunate enough to get along with the family I was born into. Still, I was planning on spending Thanksgiving with a dear friend. 

Because the thing is, I think Thanksgiving is sort of a cursed holiday for my family (or maybe just for me.) Because I don't remember ever having a good one, growing up. I remember fights, and stress, and being glad to be back in the dorm. I remember being relieved, when the law school finals schedule meant it was impossible to both study and fly home. I remember the year spent in shock, curled on the kitchen floor, when I realized "over" wasn't a big enough word for what had just happened to my marriage. I didn't want to go home, not for Thanksgiving.

But family called, so I went. It was, oddly, good. I still don't like stuffing, but there was pie. Which I also had for breakfast. There weren't any big fights, or drama, and I listened to family stories I'd never heard before. My Dad and I had a contest to see how many languages we could each curse in, and I fell of my chair laughing when I realized it was his Mom, my Grandma, who taught him how to say "Kiss my ass" in Irish.

But even with the joy, it was strange. The house my parents live in now is not any of the houses in which I grew up. I stay in a guest room when I visit. It's the one I always stay in, and the one they just bought a desk for, so I can write in privacy when I visit, but it's not my room. There are pictures of me in it, from high school. 

I don't really recognize that girl, even though who I am right now is probably the closest I've ever been to the secret dreams she held at her heart of who she wanted to be when she grew up. And I thought a lot about my past, there in that room that wasn't mine, and about the choices and changes and victories and mistakes that have gone into the making of who I am right now. I have no desire to lay the ghosts of my past. I have become used to being haunted.

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