In my formative years, there was a book I read. In the book, a survivors of people who’s home was destroyed had a ritual of returning to the barren wasteland to leave mementos as tribute to the ones who died in the catastrophe. This pilgrimage was called a Returning. And it’s always something I think about when I make a trip back to my home town.
The parallels aren’t exact – I haven’t lost all my family in an apocalyptic act, but there is something that keeps bringing up the reference. I could be linking the two just because of the similar words, but I feel like it might be a bit more though. It is like enough has changed and all that is left are the ruins of a bygone age. My trips are a tribute to summer memories and friends that have moved away; a tribute to my childhood.
The water, both salt and fresh
From the mountains to the ocean, rivers run down hill. They join together and fork apart along the way and as I traveled them I had to remember all the twists and turns from my childhood. Eroded banks and new dams and freshly cut channels caused me to doubt and rely on a river guide to get to my destination. She took me on ways I’ve never been before and I did not like it.
But to the sea I did make it. And there was much rejoicing.
For my upstream journey, I got some advice from a local and I went off on my own. Exploring and finding familiar roads and new passes, it was soothing to the soul.
Vows, kids, and awkwardness
On the beach, strangers introduced by vows celebrated the joining with lack of sleep, games, tacos, and dunks in the ocean.
The sun of the summer solstice was tempered with onshore winds and cool temperatures while kids played in the sand and adults made friends.
People who haven’t seen each other in almost a decade came and compared the years that have passed. The different paths that seemed to lead to a very similar maturity. They saw each other and approved. Then they parted ways for another ten years.
Family and heritage and liquor
I had a lunch date with my Nonnie. This might have been the first time either of us have been alone together, which just sounds weird. But we don’t get to see each other all that often and I’m not the most social of persons, so there was always someone else to share the “burden of entertaining”.
Eventually the awkwardness wore away and we had a lovely lunch on the wharf. She had the crispy fisherman’s platter and I had frutti de mare and we talked about her childhood. Being the daughter of an Italian fisherman, she told me stories about how all the men in the family slept in one room, and how she used to sneak her grandpa bread. She told me about how her step mother was physically abusive and a great-aunt that I never met.
She also told me about how her father opened a liquor store after the family sold the boat and how once my 4-year-old mother walked out the house and four blocks away to the liquor store because she wanted ice cream.
I took finding out that my mom’s grandpa had a liquor store with knowing that my dad’s grandpa had a bar as a sign that I should continue my pursuit of making a living selling booze.
I want to bring you food and peace
I went to a swimming hole I have never been to before. In its idyllic setting, I had a wonderful time reveling in the strength from my daily work outs while wrestling a log pinned to the rocks by the yet stronger river. I was reminded of and reminisced about past summers and exploits and adventures involving water and rocks. That will be a treasured memory.
I was once told, “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” And it’s something that I took to heart. I can be supportive. I can take care of things. I can make jokes and lighten the mood. I can let stresses break upon me like a crashing wave and be still.
It took it to heart because I’m not confident in my looks. I have body image issues. I’ve been ridiculed about my face, glasses, stomach, my weight, and others things mostly out of my control. People have never really complement my appearance. And those that have, I’ve written off as family and friends with obligations to say nice things.
So I overcompensate. With the lack of confidence and being overly eager to please, I am sure I end up on the annoying and pestering side of interactions instead of the suave and cool side. I am working on it, though. The though that someone is interested in me is foreign, but more acceptable that it was in the past.
I want to bring you food and peace, but I have to bring myself first.