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Hyperion June 5, 2001

#43 Home Again, Home Again

“You can never go home again, but I guess you can shop there.”

-John Cusack

It is so strange for me to visit my parents’ home these days. Always before, it was my home. I had my own room, I knew all the cable channels by heart, and I knew what was going on in everyone’s life. Even coming back from college it still felt like returning to my old humble abode.

But it is different now. I have never lived in the house they now live in. I do not have my own towel; I have the “guest” towel. Before, I used to get lectured for eating the pantry dry. Now, they are pleased to feed me, and ask me what I want. It is not a bad thing, but I do not know that I will ever become truly used to it.

My last trip there I had an unusual opportunity. My youngest sister had a concert at her school, and I was asked to stay over to see it. The night just did not start well. I was dispatched to the school early to secure seats, after I was drawn this elaborate diagram, supposedly of the auditorium, but to me it looked like a giant ship. Getting to the school was another downer, for I soon learned that the doors were not opening until half an hour before show time, which left me to cool my heels. Standing in the foyer of the high school creeped me out. All these memories of my past came flooding back, and I started reverting to my nerdy 10th grade self. I tried telling myself that I was older than these kids were, and by definition cooler than they were. However, it is a whole lot easier to say you are cool than to stand there not knowing anyone, and project coolness. I never figured out what made kids cool in school, but that is a subject for another time.

Finally, we were herded in to the auditorium, only to discover that the seats I had been commissioned to seize had been reserved all afternoon for old people. Curse those old folks; they get all the breaks (just kidding Grandma, please don’t stop talking to me). My family finally showed up, and the concert began.

And I was horrified.

Because they were awful.

Now, in these kids’ defense, they were fifteen year olds trying to sing very difficult arrangements. Whoever set up the songs had to have been tripping on Speed. My horror, however, was that I was afraid my sister would sound the same, and I am terrible about lying in these types of situations. I could just picture the scene: she comes up to me and tentatively asks how I liked it and I make a couple of feeble comments before finally breaking down sobbing, “You were so horrible.” Admittedly, I have an active imagination, but I was still scared. To the show’s credit, the singers did get markedly better as they went on, but I still had major apprehension about my sister’s upcoming solo.

Then, my sister sang.

My first thought was overwhelming relief. “She doesn’t suck!” Quickly, though, that thought was replaced by one of wonderment and awe. I was used to her singing around the house; growing up with her, it seemed she did little else. This, ladies and gentlemen, was not the same ballpark. It was not even the same sport. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see a family member truly shine in something. And I am not talking about every parent’s “My kid is beautiful” shine. This was the real thing. I may not be able to sing all that well, but I know music, and this was it. I was so proud, I wanted to run around and tell everybody “That’s MY sister up there!” I ended up foregoing that bit of patriotism, but I did sit there beaming with pride.

I am sure, no matter what she sounded like, I would have put the best face on it. But Light, is sure was nice to be proud with a clear conscience. It was also nice to learn that the little girl I watched as a child had grown up into this young woman, who could belt the lights out of a show tune. That is what you miss when you are not home. I may have to go back more often.

June 5, 2001


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