All during the drive up this past weekend, in the midst of the never ending plains of Iowa, snow covered with misty, milky sunlight seeping through the clouds, I had time to reflect on the concept of coming home. As seventh in a family of nine, it’s completely odd for me to be the one arriving with exotic friends in tow. Odd because the light and excitement of my childhood was the arrival of my older brothers and sisters doing just that.
I remember the flustered activity, cleaning the house from top to bottom under mom’s strict “list” system. Once you finished all the chores on your list, you were free to go, and in my case, run back up to my room and curl up in a patch of sunlight with a book, made even better with the knowledge that someone new was coming to visit. The guests would burst into the door, and I always made sure to be right there, peeking out from behind the sanctuary of the wood stove, shy and curious. They were part of “the big kids”, the highest level in our strict cast system.
I am at the lowest section of our cast system, firmly embedded in the title of a “little kid”, and this is why it’s so odd for me to be doing what the older kids did over the years. I’m growing up, and I can’t really believe it. Last night, my friends and I went out to Leo and Leona’s, the bar down the road, and I got to spend some time just talking with Cale, Mary, Rob, and Nicole. I know I’ll never become a “big kid”, but being able to spend time with my older siblings as less of a little puppy dog and more like an equal is one of the best feelings in the world. I must note that I am most certainly not entirely grown up, and my friends and I ended up playing piano and dancing around in the empty dance hall. Plus, even if I had the choice I would never have gotten something to drink. Alcohol is nothing compared to coffee.
Coming home has been simply wonderful. Everything is the same, but it is also so different. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am just growing up. I’m not the one peeking out from behind the stove anymore. Now, I am the one bursting in the front door, with the winds of different places and people blowing in behind me.