where all are welcome but few will stay


On the 18th Day of Christmas...

Several of my friends are flying tomorrow to several different parts of the country to be with their families for Christmas. Annually we all make the trip home for the winter holiday even if the expense serves as a valid reason to keep us away the rest of the year. Tomorrow they'll wake up, and brave the traffic and irritation at the airport to board a flight they're not really sure they want to be boarding. By the time they've spent two hours in line waiting to move through metal detectors while novice flyers slow the pace attempting to get their illegal token liquid presents or other contraband on to the plane, my friends will start to think of how irritated they are to have to make such inconveniences to accommodate their families. They'll start to pick apart and remember all the faults they initially found in their hometowns. And all at once, the reminders of why they left will come flooding into their minds building dissatisfaction into monumental levels that will never abide until they are back home. Their home. Essentially, all the good will which has been building and stored up through out the year will be spent in an hour before they've even left the ground.

My best friend once told me she admired me for moving to another part of the state and making a life for myself. I've never been able to express to her that I've always thought she was the braver one for having stayed home. Running away is easy. And figuring out that running away is easy is the best lesson to have learned from leaving home. People who leave home often boast about the lives they've built for themselves out of nothing. Nobody ever tells you that the best time to build something is when you have nothing because you have nothing to lose. Watching some DVD extras this week after a movie I came across an interview in which the moderator based his question to the director by first laying out this premise. That all writers are essentially bastards (or assholes I can't remember which). That he, the moderator, was most qualified to say this because he himself was a writer. Writers, he said, live in their own worlds. They create worlds and even the most talented writers are obsessed with their own perception of the world; its what creates their art--their perception. Am I an asshole? Are my friends assholes? Is this what makes an artist? The ability to selfishly indulge in one's one thoughts or perceptions? Or is this just the red herring question everyone of a certain age asks themselves? And by that I don't mean an actual age, but rather someone who has never really wanted for something. Someone who has never been tested by circumstance to want something that they can't readily access or conquer. Is it a question of the over privileged? Privileged not by wealth but by an abundance of choices and circumstance.

So on this the 18th Day of Christmas, I acknowledge that the things I want most this holiday are things that can't be readily given. But I'll settle for this, that when my friends finally land and they are met by an equally agitated family member who has been circling the crowded airport for two hours (not having known about the delay) that they are all suddenly awash in good cheer. That for some unknown reason a warm holiday feeling floods back into them and they are able to see themselves in the family that they see so little of.