American after American. In a row…
Strolling through the terminal.
Busiest travel day of the year.
Planes and planes and planes.
My first Thanksgiving to myself.
Something to be thankful for.
This holiday is for others.
Excited immigrants – thankful to be here – providing for their families – safe.
It’s not for me, yet I feel the holiday cheer.
Flustered, anticipatory travelers.
It is infections.
I show mild symptoms of the bug.
A smile and calmness comes over me.
American. American. American. IRELAND.
A flash of green.
Not expecting to see it docked across the tarmac.
At terminal 5.
The terminal that means home.
A sudden dull feeling inside.
Not an ache.
Just an “Oh. That’s a thing.”
Not entirely good.
Not entirely bad.
Without me on it.
To one of my homes.
It, not I.
The majestic Airbus 330.
I’m running from my other home.
Green pops into my mind again.
Green and holidays.
Home and holidays.
Thanksgiving does not exist there.
Christmases of my youth.
Shoveling handful after handful of freezings stones into bucket after bucket.
My fingers cold, then pained, then numb and stiff.
The anchors for the tree.
Worth it in the end.
Old fashioned clothes-soap.
Flakes in water.
Mixing with hands.
Two. Four. Six. Eight.
Slimy and gloopy.
Backward ancient shirts of my dads.
Fake snow on a real tree.
Beautiful sibling teamwork.
Slinky after slinky.
Year after year.
Released down the stairs.
A mis-step, a cry-out, broken.
Do I forget the fights?
So hard to wait an entire day to dry.
Wanting to decorate now.
The beautiful bulbs.
Not some shoddy modern string of repetitive blinking tiny flecks of light.
These were real.
Each one large and different.
I wonder do they still exist.
Does my father still put up a tree?
They are suddenly three fourths of a century.
How did that happen?
Time crept. Time flew.
Is gone with a turn of the head.
A glance over the shoulder.
Maybe if we didn’t turn our heads…
Maybe it would stop or slow the train from birth to death.
We always turn our heads…
So do they?
Do they still exist?
Does a tree?
Is there snow on it?
Or is the house bare?
Time moved on…
The family home now devoid of children, teenagers, young adults?
It is now the next generation, my generation’s turn to perform.
To accept the baton.
The children are now adults.
The grandchild. Alone among adults.
Yet I am not there.
I abandoned ship.
My kids without a family.
My nephew without his peers.
In my head a vision.
That likely will not come true.
My parents, siblings, spouses, kids together one last time.
Laughter, shouting, smiling, anger
As all families do.
Not perfect by any means, yet felt special by all.
I look around the table.
Each and every face.
Different yet warm feelings for each.
I see the kids shouting and fighting.
“He did it!” “She did it!” “It’s not fair!”
Stealing glances of the grown-ups.
A secret game.
Too pure in its simplicity.
We adults mirror them in almost every way.
Breaking off in little groups.
Murmuring. Whispering. Exploding with laughter.
My mind is suddenly yanked back.
Seat belt sign on.
I’m nearly in Atlanta.
My holiday alone.
I’m on one of those Americans.
Aer Lingus long behind me.
Perhaps already Ireland bound.
I wrote these prose on one short flight
Two hours compressed into moments.
Once again flashed by.
Some precious time.
What if we could control the speed?
Fast through bad.
Slow through good.
It’s always the other painful way.
The cars are in my view now.
Our wheels will touch down soon.
Most people on the plane are likely on their way home.
I am reaching out to the unknown for me.
Alone but not lonely.