I have been at home on Long Island since December 6th. I announced my return home to no one, save my buddy Lou who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport early that morning. I rang the bell of my childhood home in the morning twilight as the sun cast a golden hue over the skeletons of bare trees and houses I've known since I was born.
The air was crisp and cold - something I hadn't felt in almost 2 years.
The door opened, and I saw standing on the other side of it, my old man, dressed to the tee in his grey pajamas, his hair matted from the nite's sleep before, and a look of absolute surprise and joy covering his face. My mom came slinking down the stairs soon after - still half-asleep, wrapped up in her fluffy pink robe, and smiling a dreary smile that conveyed her sense of happiness and exhaustion all at once.
We had waffles that morning.
Being home thus far has been as one could expect it to be...
3- Kind of boring
There are a number of reasons my planned itinerary (South Africa -> Mozambique -> South Africa -> Italy -> Switzerland -> Sweden -> Italy -> USA) did not come to fruition. I won't get into the reasons why here. I had a number of pretty obvious signs from the Universe that it was time to pack up and go straight home.
I've learned to listen to the Universe when it speaks.
I'm happy I came home when I did. It allowed me to go see (and surprise) many of my friends from home and college before the holiday crush, and I was able to see pretty much my entire family for the actual holiday of Christmas.
Christmas was strange this year, mainly for the fact that my brother wasn't here. He's prancing around Europe, pretending he's Italian or French or a mountain Yeti. I'm a little bit jealous.
Andrew missed out on Aunt Maria's baked pasta, venison meatballs, and the next nite, venison spiedina. Sucks to be him. Not really.
To state the obvious, it was great to see my whole extended family, and just BE together. By far, the coolest thing since being home, has been visiting my two youngest cousins, Sean, now 2 1/2 years, and Ryan, only 3 months old. I love getting new members of the family.
The cool thing about it, besides the obvious fact that there is a new baby where there previously was none, was to see how much Sean had grown since I left.
Sean now speaks mostly coherent English, runs around pretending he's Spider Man, names all his super heroes flawlessly, remembers peoples' names, sings the words to Beatles and Genesis tunes, and now, unlike before, he actually looks human. The last time I saw him, he was still more or less a lump of baby-ness - as all young children seem to be before the age of 2. To me, that is the biggest reminder of how long it has been since I've been home. I've gotten to spend some time with him the past few weeks, and I love that kid to no end.
This past year, 2008, was one of the toughest ones I've ever lived through. Last year, 2007, comes in a very very close second. After all the shite I've gone thru the last 12 months, I realized that this is the only way I would want to end this past year - with family, in familiar settings, eating massive amounts of delicious food, and feeling connected to something bigger, once again.
I hope 2009 takes us all to the sky. I'm trying again to learn how to fly.