Those that went before us have walked paths that we may never fully understand. Talk about a time when you learned something important about your family history.
My family spends every Thanksgiving in Yosemite National Park. We have for many years.
When we were younger, the test was always to bring boyfriends to Thanksgiving. They’d be vetted by the family; tested to see if they were fit for purpose.
My father was always the one who created the tests. He and I are kindred spirits in that we genuinely like to mess with people. Make up stories. Lead people out into the Sierras in the middle of the night and take their lives in our hands.
So when we were younger, the boyfriends would be vetted on Thanksgiving night when they were three (or six!) sheets to the wind, when they’d be led out to the woods and forced to walk without a flashlight to the door of a little cabin that was literally The House at The End of the Road.
And someone would inevitably shout, or make noise, and scare the hell out of everyone. The boyfriend’s reaction would determine whether he was Worth It.
Needless to say, my ex-husband failed this test many times over. I think one year, he even refused to go on the walk.
Anyway. In recent years, the dynamic of the clan has changed. Everyone has been busy procreating, or getting sober, or divorcing. And this year, it was a peculiar year because everyone came down with the norovirus, and it turned the cabin into a veritable vomitorium.
However, we are reaching a state of stasis. Everyone’s done having babies. And I feel…normal…again.
Life is starting over.
The first glimmers of this came when I was driving up to Thanksgiving with my brother, back in November. I was sitting shotgun in his Honda, and when the radio reception faded as we crossed into the foothills of the Sierras, I flipped through the stack of CDs he had in his car.
Is that…mine? I asked him, incredulous.
Yeah, he grinned.
I had bought the album when it had first come out — the disc in my hand was a first edition. So I slid it into the CD player, and we drove through the hills listening to my teen angst.
It was funny, that moment, because when I was growing up, I felt like nobody had ever grown up before. It was like I was the first person ever to ever do any growing up. No one had ever gone before me, and nobody would ever go after me. But then there Matthew and I were, on the other side of an era, and it dawned on me that he had probably known exactly what it had been like, growing up in our house.
Growing up with our parents. Driving around our hometown; listening to Alanis Morissette; wishing to be anywhere but There.
History, you know, is just a moment. That he’d held on to that stupid CD made me realise that I hadn’t lived those moments alone.