Friday, March 21, 2008

thanksgiving for rent

(original post: november 23, 2007)

my hands were numb
at first, eventually
warming under the growing
fire, blowing
in front of me,
sparks and ash
set free
into the stars.
the embers underneath
glowed angry
with fire, sad
white skeletons settling,
live brown bark,
squeezing the water out
hiss after hiss.
i didn't mean to stare,
you see.
but this beauty
of giving warmth
inside death,
to my frigid hands...
thanksgiving never
tasted so true.

i was unsure of how to approach the holidays this year. the last year has been filled with so many conflicting feelings that it didn't seem right just to paste on a smile and fill my head with air and prozac so that things are "ok".
things aren't really "ok." they're not so bad, but i definately have taken some serious blows, financially and physically, that are taking me a minute to recover from.
so i knew that thanksgiving was going to be interesting. i didn't want to ruin my real family's. i knew it was going to happen in some form or fashion. our relationships are stronger in my absence. if they can't see me, then i'm a bobblehead daughter with a voice. but i'm always smiling. and i look great on a car dash.
i'm not going to lie. it was hard to hear them in the background when i called home, chaos in the kitchen behind my older brother... my eccentric french grandmother, who has never let us call her that, yelling at my father, telling him the turkey is going to be overcooked, my older brother going on about his dissertation and all his brains i never got, her husband geneously pouring some J&B into another crystal glass...
it was thanksgiving, at the van assche house. everyone was drunk. everyone was yelling. everyone, but me, and i was forced to remind myself that i was the one who made this decision.
i was passed on from my older brother to danielle, bonjour... comment ca va... and handed to robert, whom i don't know very well, so... awkward star... then to my younger brother, which was the point in the conversation where a lump started to build up in my throat. he knew. he knows me, and he could hear it in my voice.
then, my mother motioned to him in the background to hand off to my father.
i haven't talked to my father since he kicked me out. with voices. i got a couple badly named emails and i hand wrote him some which i sent actually using the post office... but nothing otherwise, and i was caught with my pants down, unprepared for an explanation.
i didn't say much. "i'm good." "yeah. yes..." "mmhmm." i left it simple, and figured that would make me less prone to actually spontaniously combust into tears. and it did. and he said happy thanksgiving, and handed the phone off to my mother, drunk, upset i wasn't there, and sad that i was without a family on such an american holiday.
we talked for a couple minutes, and again, it was mostly her, because i was trying to conceal choking on my refusal to spend thanksgiving with my family...
and then i was alone, after goodbyes and i love yous and i miss yous. it was strange, sitting in the cold, mad at myself for breaking our tradition but proud because i stuck to my guns and stood up for myself...
conflict. it's the new "it" feeling. totally 2008. totally.
but i had thanksgiving with people who love me. and though it was not the same as my family does it, it was beautiful to be included in someone elses tradition. like the chaotic kitchen back home, there are certain things that are done certain ways and not everyone is given the chance to be invited into that. i was blessed in much conflict this holiday.
i am thankful for the nothings in my life. they are what have given me my everythings.
we went to a bonfire last night, after everyone went to bed, and i watched the fire go from barely lit to my eyebrows burning.
we drank wild turkey and guiness, and talked about dinosaurs in the bible and the elusive giant squid. it was the beginning of a new tradition that i could foresee in the future for a very long time.

thank you to all that added to my thanksgiving. it was the hardest and best one yet.


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