Friday, January 20, 2017

Prodigal Daughter: A Homecoming in Three Vignettes

Stop me if you've heard this one.  A man has two sons, one of whom leaves home and goes off to squander his inheritance on riotous living...
Okay, yes, I know - it's probably safe to assume that you've heard this before, seeing as ye olde goode Book that it comes from is a cultural cornerstone of the Western World...but you know what happens when you assume.  Anyways.

The parable is all kinds of deep.  There are lots of ways to look at it.  There's the father's perspective, whose lost child has come back to him.  There's the brother, who feels a little jealous because no one killed the fatted calf for him, even though he's been there doing the right thing all along.  Personally, though, I've always identified with the black sheep of the family...the prodigal son.
It may tell you something about me that I received this card from one of my underbrats for Christmas.  Leading up to the holiday, when I was asked about my plans, I may have grimaced and said I was going to the most boring place in all of the US - Iowa.  My antagonism toward my "home" is long-standing...I never forgave it for being where my Dad's job got transferred after fifth grade.  In fact, upon graduating from high school, I went right back to where I started: Kansas City.  And from there, I kept going.
But like the prodigal son, I realize that - contrary to popular belief, you can go home again...sorta.  Ever since Princess, Dirt Devil, Bunny, and the rest of the niblings came along, I actually want to go home, so I observe my filial piety twice a year...and if I'm ready to leave again almost as soon as I'm back, well, try not to judge me too harshly.  Not til you've bathed in my dribbly shower for three weeks straight, or dealt with internet out of the stone age.
There are two problems tangled up together here.  First, it's not my life anymore.  There is a certain comfort in being at home, and I would probably actually sacrifice someone to Sam Walton if it would bring a bona fide Wal*Mart to Ulaanbaatar (there may or may not be a list of my preferred offerings, although unfortunately they'd probably all get the reaction that Cain's veggies did).  Be that as it may, having nothing to do for three weeks is a little tough, especially when your siblings have lives and your friends have moved away.

The second problem is, it was never my life to begin with.  I wasn't born a small-town girl.  When I was barely old enough to walk, Shaggy "took me for a walk" in midtown Kansas City, nearly giving my mother a heart attack.  As soon as I graduated high school, I was back, my university in the same neighborhood as my first home, walking to classes, walking to the Nelson-Atkins museum of Art, walking to the Plaza where I could eat good - if expensive - meals and read in Barnes and Noble's  comfy chairs.  There's not a coke machine for miles around my parents' house, let alone one I can walk to.

So this is basically the crux of my issue.  I love my family, but it's hard to be home.  Over the summer I managed to keep myself busy, but Christmas is another time of year altogether.  The next few posts are the story of me trying to make sense of my life as the prodigal child of my family.

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