My East Coast family visited us in Wisconsin for Christmas.
Wisconsin is a long way from Boston, where I grew up.
My anticipation of their visit was like a reckoning--a calculation, if you will, of the full psychic toll of their absence. When they arrived, I knew I would laugh more. There would be a levity of spirit that isn't always present at other times. I would experience a homey comfort in their company that I don't always feel, way the heck out here in Wisconsin.
I could write about how it's funny that I have adopted the Midwest as my home, because it's not a perfect fit. But that's not what I'm here to write about, so let's cap that off by saying that the little discomfort that I always feel is the discomfort of a traveler, which is helpful for a creative person.
But have you experienced what it means to feel like an outsider, even to yourself? Sometimes, I feel like I live too far out on the limb, too far from family and old friends who really know me. I could almost forget who I am.
This year, instead of sitting down and writing all those cards, which I am clearly failing to do, I am writing this pathetic post just to say that I am, especially at this time of year, keenly aware of the many people who seem to have parts of me that I haven't seen in a long time. Maybe that's not important, generally speaking. But it's important to me.
Amy Franks, for example. You never roll your eyes and gently shut me down when I trot out my latest pet theory on anything&everything.
Kate Kaminski, going for a walk with you is one of my life's greatest pleasures.
Booba Anwar, for me, you're a touchstone to something deeply spiritual. I love the way our thoughts close the distance between us in the space of a heartbeat. You are always there.
Monique Pommier, every year, I try to honor you with a card (not this year) in gratitude for the conversations we have had... Your wisdom was like a mirror in which I could see something reflected clearly as if for the very first time: my humanity.
David Greenberg, a moment with you in a cafe would restore a great deal of something I've been missing for a very long time.
Neal Barmack, my uncle, and my father's brother--whenever we talk, I feel that essentially Barmack something that I thought was entirely lost to me with the death of my father. My feeling for that connection--with what is Barmack in you, and also in me--is bigger and mushier than our family culture permits me to express.
Sue Miller, the sound of your voice--and your laughter, in particular--gives me an immediate sense of my father's presence. You were such a big part of him. I miss you both.
Matthew, Marty, and John Greenman, a Christmas card to remind you I love you is the least I could do, but I love you just the same. In our shared joy and loss, we are of a piece.
There are many more people, and so much more I could say about the unique pain that each of them causes me by missing them. I should have sent cards, it might have been easier.
When I seem to lose sight of who I am, remembering the people who know me--who seem to own discrete parts of me, as though I were a time-share--brings whoever I am back into focus.
'Tis the season to be grateful--yes, grateful!--for all of the people that I do have and have had and hope to continue to have in my life...in Wisconsin, on the East Coast, the West Coast, Hawaii (I'm coming back in 2015!!!), in Europe (shout out to the Czech Republic and Poland!), in England (part of Europe? yes/no/maybe? Tom? Nigel? Mr. Boggon...?), on FB, and on the well-traveled Psychic Friends Network... Bittersweet it is, but I am grateful.
I remain, as ever, in careful observance, your loving [fill in the blank],