Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome Home

I am a day late.  I am always late, but usually only by twenty minutes or so.  I’ve got my bag leaning against my leg and am twisting my scarf in my hands.  Standing in front of the porch just looking at the door and I admit I am hoping that somebody will spontaneously come outside, but it is late into the evening and I don’t really expect that to happen.  I gather up my courage and my bag.  Shouldering it, I begin up the steps towards the door.  It seems huge and extremely well locked.  The unwanted question rises in my head.  Will they still want me?  Of course they will want me, I tell myself.  Big breath, of course they want me.  I lift my hand to knock and a flurry of activity sounds from behind the door.  I was right about the door being well locked.  Soon the door creaked open and Ann peaked out from behind it.

“It is you!  I knew it would be you!  Harold said to check the peephole, but I knew!” She crowed stamping her feet like a child.

“Hi Ann, I’ve missed you.” I smiled at the diminutive woman whose voice is much larger then her physical presence.

“Come in, come, it is chilly out there! She practically shouted at me in her excitement.

“Thank you so much for having me. I am sorry about being so late.”

“Oh, honey, don’t worry about it, you are the nomad of the family.  We understand your time schedule may not be as exact as one would expect.  Enough of that, we got dinner for you.”  Ann waved towards the table by the door. “Just dump your bag there for now and we will get some good food in you.”

I felt a bit of guilt at the nomad comment.  If they only knew how true it was. I attempted to keep at least some sort of a semblance of a balanced life for them.  I laughed at myself, no to be honest, the things I do for me.  The portrayal is for me so I won’t feel guiltier about my strangeness, my inability to commit to even an address.  Thank goodness for friends with permanent addresses and post office boxes.

As we walked back to the kitchen, I was seeped in childhood memories.  The grandfather clock that was my best friend still kept time in the living room.  The time showed as 7:30pm.  It wasn’t as late as I thought.  The clock chimed out the ½ hr gong and I paused savoring its dulcet tones.  It wasn’t as loud as I remember, but living in a city will deaden your ears to most noise.

“Hey Ann, quick question for you?”

She turned in the doorway of the kitchen.  “Yes?”

“How did you know I was at the door?  I didn’t get a chance to knock yet.”

“Oh,” she laughed “Marge called from across the street to let us know that there was an “unknown” standing in front of our house.”

She winked at me. “She is new in town so she wouldn’t remember you.”   

I smiled at Ann “I had forgotten what it was like to be in a small town.”

“Yes, well welcome back, Treat.”  She grinned again and said “Come on, food is getting cold and I am sure Harold is quite impatient to see you.

I haven’t been called Treat for years.  When I first came to live with Ann & Harold, Ann would hug me spontaneously and tell me what a treat I was.  Eventually Harold started calling me Ann’s Favorite Treat and that was quickly shortened to Treat.

Pushing through the kitchen door, I was assaulted by the warm smell of Thanksgiving.

“Wait, what?”  I stuttered.

“Well, you’ve missed a few holidays and we know how much you loved your Thanksgiving dishes.  So we decided to make a few.”  Harold smiled as he spread his arms over the bounty of food on the table.

“A few, hmm?  Seems like you can feed an army here?”

“Oh, no” Said Ann, “Not a whole army, maybe the football team though.”

She turned and hugged me. “Oh honey, we’ve missed you so.”

Harold turned and wheeled away from the table.  I kept myself from starting.  I knew he was in a wheelchair now, but I hadn’t seen him since the accident.  He came over and I hugged him.  His arms wrapped around me felt as strong as they did 20 years ago when he would protect me from the ghosts in the closet and the monster in the bathroom.

“Missed you Treat, glad you’ve come home for a bit.”

“Missed you both terribly, I am sorry I stayed away for so long.”

“It’s alright, we still love you’” Harold rumpled my hair and gave me one last squeeze.  “Come on and eat or I will give the football team a call.”

I laughed and sat down.

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