On Earth there are three structures I once assigned the word, “home,” to, but living in this house for a year now I don’t know what, “home,” means anymore because I know I am not there.
Spending a day watching the shadows creep across the floor, from just before 9 a.m. until sunset at around 4:30 p.m., I struggled with a few new thoughts I had over the weekend. In only one year here I don’t know, yet, how the shadows make the things inside the house look. There is no familiarity. I look at the vinyl floorboards and remember the floorboards in the first house I called home, 12-inches tall, stained dark, varnish cracked with time, and know there is no possible way I would ever use what I see now in any structure I would own. The walls are white, and while I don’t know what I would use, I know it would include color. Today I broke an outlet plate, and rather than care, I know it isn’t mine so the accident means nothing to me.
Is this my home?
Is this the place I need to call, “home,” to achieve some level of acceptance?
Is this the house my two sons will remember as the place their transient father lived longer than any other place while always having their father’s house be something of an ill-formed memory of forgotten places?
Outside of thinking the same things, over and over, my mind has the ability to shove something wholly new into the cycle to add a wrinkle to the freak out. My sons might one day have children. Is this house going to be where Grandpa Justin lives, and will those grandchildren have their own ill-formed memories of this place? Will my sons have to explain to their lovers, their wives, their children, and their grandchildren, what kind of place Dad or Grandpa Justin chose to live in and to make them live?
This neighborhood changed, quite a bit, in twelve months, and as I am now the longest-tenured tenant save three among the nine houses one the block, I worry. Can this place ever be home? Is it time, or decorating, or simple concession this is where I am and where I likely will be for all the formative experiences between now and death, that will turn this into home? Do I surrender to the inevitable fact this must become home?
I do not want this to be home. To become home. I do not want my transience to end in a place where the only marks I leave will be a couple holes in the drywall and a few broken outlet plates.
What I desire is “Dad’s Home,” where my sons will know, and remember forever, what it means. “Grandpa Justin’s Home,” where future images completely independent of me caused by the scent of popcorn and evergreen are positive and known, absolutely, as a reminder of Grandpa Justin’s home. Selfishly, to find the place where I will know I am home because I know how it feels to be in that particular place.
Mistakes were made today. There were hopes, and there were things done, and one was taking down the tree and getting the living room back to how it was a month ago. Now, in the darkness, the imprint of my two sons, boys who put lights on a tree for the first time, is gone. Part of them is gone, and I am left sitting in a room without personality or any indication I was here, missing them, and wishing this place were home so I could feel them and not just their absence.
Now I should work hard. Harder than before. Whatever stone needs turning should be turned so I get to spend the next holiday season in a place I can call, without reservation, “home.” The effort necessary to travel the road needing to be tread isn’t something I believe I have in me. Perhaps, a year from now, I will remember the light, the shadows, the show I watched on television, today, and feel better due to some level of familiarity. Maybe seeing those things again, for a third time, will make them more palatable.
A better wager would be placed on me feeling as much a failure in twelves months as I feel at this moment.

Before I’m 64

Ask anyone the date upon which Abraham Lincoln died and those who paid close enough attention in junior history class might get the month (April), the year (1865), and perhaps the holiday (Good Friday), or some combination thereof. Most will know John Wilkes Booth did the deed.

It is better known November 22nd to be the day Lee Harvey Oswald pulled his trigger.

Today I celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday. My father only made it to 55, and my mother, in recent weeks, has had heart trouble significant enough I worried whether either of my folks would get to 60. Today’s the day, she made it, and once she’s turned into the Bionic Woman with pacemaker and defibrillator we should be able to see her through to 70. Hope.

Today I also mark the death of my maternal grandmother. A tall, strict, German woman, my grandmather had the ability to show a soft side if it was searched for, but it required the search as she would not willingly show it to everyone. 50 years after she gave birth to my mom, almost to the minute, her body gave out, and she was gone.

In Northeast Illinois on November 22nd, 2004, the weather was pleasant. There had been need for a jacket, there had been no clouds, there had been just a peach of a fall day. When I received word of the death I was hunkered down at my desk working on some long-forgotten piece of nothing in a career even less important than the work being done. I cried, quietly, then went looking for my supervisor to get permission to leave work and prepare for the week back home, which would include the first Thanksgiving with my family in more than half a decade. Never mind I had just done the 1,000-mile roundtrip two days earlier to celebrate my mother’s 50th. It would need to be driven again.

A silver lining happened later the same day when a Level 2 Ultrasound told the tale of a child to be born, a girl, someone who we would always look to and say, “Little Margaret Ann will somehow call to mind Big Margaret Ann beyond name as the one given would surely have something of the one taken.” The child was to be named for her deceased great grandmother.

For five months coping with the death was made somehow easier waiting for Little Margaret Ann to appear and take my grandma’s place. She would be loved, protected, and raised knowing she was of the utmost importance to all those around her. At bare minimum she would have the name.

Little Margaret Ann. Meg. Grandma would be gone for only five months before she was somehow, someway returned to us.

It is safe to say a hefty curveball came our way after the five months passed, Meg gave way to Henry and, for the second time in less than half a year, a Margaret Ann was taken. A story for another time.

For today: my mom is 60. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, glamper. In my subsequent ten years another child was born, a marriage ended, a nervous breakdown or two or three were suffered, jobs were changed, I grieved the death of a grandfather, and watched my father’s fight fight against the unbeatable cancer . It is absolutely insane to think of how much life has changed in just ten short years.

Today Sandra Kay, Sam, Namma Sandy, Mom, enters her seventh decade.

A very happy birthday to her with only quiet moments left to remember the Margaret Anns of the world. Why? Because they were both, in their way and in reality or otherwise, important.

And, for the record, there was no second shooter. Just a crackpot sitting in a warehouse with rifle in hand. Bank on it.