Monday, April 6, 2009

I am the homecoming king

Whoever said, “you can’t go home again” is absolutely right. You can’t. Or at least you can’t go home again and still feel good about yourself.

I went home this weekend and it’s just so funny. First of all, when I’m back in my hometown I run into all the people I grew up with. Then we have to catch up and then compare and pass judgements on each other’s lives. Here is an example of a typical “bumping into” someone in a grocery store aisle conversation:

High School Friend: You’re not married yet? You’re not even dating someone? Well I have a wife and, like, six kids. And a dog. And a hamster, even! Do you even have a hamster? Aw, too bad. And what did you get your degree in? Hmmm. Where do you work? Good luck making a living at that! I make, like, six figures and I work from home and I own my own company.

I can deal with that, though. No big deal. I am happy where I am at. The real trouble with “going home” is actually going home to your home of origin, like where your family lives, the house where you grew up. WEIRD.

The first thing that happens when you come home is any growing up you have done while you were away from home automatically goes out the window. This means that no matter how hard they try, no matter how good their intentions are, your parents will still slip up and treat you like a kid sometimes. It just happens. It’s not too bad, really. Mostly it’s just funny.

And then you figure out that you are in some weird limbo space with your siblings. You’re still cool, but you’ll never be one of them again. With my siblings, most of this awkwardness comes because I get along with my parents a lot better these days, so I’m no longer an ally in the War on Parents. We used to have a unified front against the Parents, but now that I’m back and know a little bit about the world I try to get along and help out. To my siblings this is high treason.

So I can never again be a kid in my siblings’ eyes, and I will never truly be an adult in my parents’ eyes. I can’t ever move from this awkward place either. The only way to gain favor in my siblings’ eyes is to fight with the parents, and the only way I can gain favor in my parents’ eyes is to fight with my siblings. It’s very tricky.

They try not to put me in the middle of their arguments, but I find myself there often. My parents say stuff like, “You should tell So-and-So that they should do such-and-such. They’ll listen to you.” And my siblings tell me things like, “Mom and Dad are crazy. You should talk to them. Maybe you could talk some sense into them.”

So I miss my family and then I go home, and pretty soon I don’t miss them anymore. Then I hurriedly go back out on my own again. It’s a good setup.