At the end of 2022, but before Christmas, Bella and Sophie and I flew to Texas. I haven’t been home to Austin in five years, not since my parents’ 50th anniversary party in December 2017. And once again we were’t just going on a whim, but for an Important Family Occurrence. Fortunately, a happy one: my brother and his wife are expecting a baby due in February and my sister-in-law, Amber really wanted us to come to her baby shower.
It was so so so very very good to get back Home. Because even though Massachusetts does feel very much like home after 22 years, Texas is still the place where the accent hits some deep animal part of my brain and reassures me that something is very Right with the World. Plus BBQ and Tex-Mex and the beautiful limestone cliffs and mesquite and cedar of the Hill County, which makes my heart sing. And the live oaks and the profusion of flowers in December. Oh Bella and I took some lovely rambling walks in the neighborhood where I spent all my teen years and it was so very Good. Though also a bit disconcerting as on almost every street there is a house that has been pulled down and replaced with a something that looks California Modern.
It was good to see my parents and sister again, though they have all visited Massachusetts in the past year. But I haven’t seen my brothers and my sister-in-law in person since I was last in Texas, so that was an especial delight. My youngest brother has suffered his own dark night of mental health and has finally found the right combination of medicines and has emerged as a very happy and chatty person and is now daily blowing my my phone with homemade gifs and links to articles and comparisons of Redactle scores. And it is very good. My artist brother showed me the painting he’s done of his wife for their 10th anniversary.
We all went out for BBQ and we went and sipped hot cocoa and watched a fantastic display of Christmas lights synchronized to carols.
And we ended up with an extra four days in Texas because Sophie’s sinuses, which had been not quite full blown infected, were pushed over the edge by flying and she spiked a fever that went up to 104 at its worst. Fortunately we had amoxicillin prescribed by a doctor in case it did turn out to be a sinus infection and I filled the prescription and she soon mended. She wasn’t able to enjoy the extra days very much, but Bella and I went shopping and walking and driving and enjoyed spending the time with my family.
When I came to Boston in 2000 to pursue my MA in Irish Studies at Boston College I had no idea I’d still be here more than 20 years later. Still here and with five kids and a husband and an extended family. I had no idea that I was an emigre and that Massachusetts would some day feel like home. But Austin still feels homelike too. And I enjoy the feeling that Odysseus must have felt of exclaiming over how much the same it is and how much changed it is. The people are still my beloved people and the landscape is still the beloved landscape, and yet it has also changed, changed utterly.
I want to fill this blog post with photographs of my parent’s house and yard, of the neighborhood and the people. But I’ve resolved that one of the things that was bogging down my writing was the need to make every post picture-perfect. I love that I can put pictures here, but the process is still much clunkier than sharing photos to Facebook and finally the words are what I most want to get back to.
I’m going to try to jot down a blog post at lunchtime. See how that works into a routine, a liturgy, a habit, a lifestyle. It only took 10 minutes to jot all this down and that felt pretty good. Something in the nature of a free write, top of my head thoughts. Not pretty or polished, but longer than a Facebook post and a little more like a journal. Getting back to the roots of my long-ago Live Journal that no one read, but which gave me a place where I could save my writing and share it at the same time.