winter and home

talking to my mom on the phone tonight brought back so many old and newer memories. dad snowblowing the area near the mailbox where snow always piles up, neighbors dropping by wearing santa hats to say hello. plans for hockey games and neighborhood parties. holiday cooking and even after how many years now, mom still can't resist telling me all about how she's preparing the meat (which i do not eat). my brother and how he can't seem to plan ahead enough to give her christmas gift ideas, highly distressing to my mother who despite our protestations thinks that her presents might actually serve as some measure of her love for us, or be perceived that way.

it's a different life, it values coziness over intensity, and stability as the highest form of accomplishment. which makes it predictable. maybe that's how memories of home should be. i know exactly where the christmas tree is, and how it looks. i know exactly how it feels and smells in that house tonight, however many states away i am. i know there is no music playing but probably fox news is on the television as my dad, having just come in from outside, starts his dinner while my mom and i wrap up our conversation. in the same way, i know more or less how all the moments of my visit will spool themselves out, from airport landing to airport takeoff. like an island of regularity in my own decreasingly regular existence.

sometimes they make the mistake of thinking that theirs is the only kind of good life. i have spent the better part of my adulthood challenging that assumption. but regardless of all that, they're right in thinking it is a good life. and i am looking forward to being there, to once again putting on my mother's snow boots and crunching my way down to the river where the old house used to be, with the cold sharply illustrating each exhalation.