I’ve learned an important lesson this holiday season. No matter how jamming I wanna be alone in the house to this song, it’s very difficult to dance in my mom’s house, due to the fact that 72% of the air consists of cigarette smoke.
Oh, my golly, I think my lung just collapsed.
I finally went out and bought this CD, no thanks to this cute boy, who has been promising me the goods for more than two months. I understand. He’s busy. He’s got important things to do, like not burn the Fergie album for me. And honestly, if this album is going to be my secret shame, I might as well pay money for it.
So. My mom’s at work and my sister’s running errands, so I’m blasting “Fergalicious” and dancing around the living room, trying to make up for the lack of actual exercise in my life these days, and before will.i.am gets to misspelling “tasty,” I’m bent over, looking for my dad’s old oxygen tank…. we don’t actually have my dad’s old oxygen tank in this house. It appears to be the one thing that isn’t still in this house.
There are roughly five million other things, though, mostly in the basement. All the belongings of my grandmother, my recently deceased aunt, my dad, my mom, my sister, and even some things of mine are cluttered in piles in every available space. Generations of things that aren’t just your typical china-and-photographs saved past someone’s time. I found a videotape on how to make “healthy” bread in your microwave. Carpet samples. Precious Moments figurines. Star Wars action figures still in their boxes. Infomercial juicers. Unfinished needlepoint projects of scary clowns. A California Raisin costume… still in the bag. Quilts and afghans and bags of yarn. Stuffed animals that belonged to dogs who are no longer alive. (Yes, plural. Dogs.) Wrapping paper and socks and about sixteen whisks. Boxes of unused 35mm film from circa 1978.
I know all of this because yesterday, in a moment of uninspired boredom, to get away from frying yet another piece of my technology (this house has caused my iBook to lose internet connection, my iPod to crash and then my Treo to crash, taking all photographs from this trip with it), I went down to the basement to see if I could find something that proved to me that my aunt was thinking about me, even when she didn’t want anything to do with us over the past twenty years.
I am not surprised, and I guess that’s why it’s so disappointing, but in the thousands of books she had, from crap romance novels to crap horror novels to about thirty-seven copies of each chapter in the Harry Potter series, there isn’t one copy of my first novel. And not that she had to have it. Not that it really proves anything. But my family has a history of people just kind of disappearing, and then being found dead later. One year ago tomorrow, we were banging on the front door of this very house, asking my aunt to let us in, to say Merry Christmas, hoping to reconnect. She didn’t answer the door, and now she’s gone. And from what we’ve learned, the people she saw every day, the people who worked with her and knew her the best, thought she didn’t have a family. They had a memorial service for her at work (There’s the spec script of The Office I should write…), and that was it.
It is very strange being back in this house, one that I know well from when I was very little. In all the moves I’ve done, the only other place I’ve seen again is the hotel in Palm Springs, and that’s still a place filled with bad memories. Being here again, with my cousin, standing where we used to stand as little kids… but this time the house is filled with my mother’s things, including the clock I’ve heard chiming since I was three — it’s the closest I can imagine to that house in your dreams that’s your house but not your house, but your house. It looks different, but some of it is still the same. There are the memories of many, many family members in this house, and I think my dad would be happy to know we’re all here, in this house where he grew up, sleeping in the same room where he used to sleep. And just like when he lived here, it’s got a television on in every room even when nobody’s there, there are strange animals and lots of people and… well, a hell of a lot of cigarette smoke. Dear Los Angeles. I can’t believe I am wishing for your clean air.
This is also the longest I’ve visited my family in years. Long enough that yesterday I actually hit boredom, a feeling I don’t get very often. I tried to engage my sister in some kind of activity, but she was more interested in watching Teen Wolf. We regressed to our old selves pretty quickly.
Come on! Let’s do something! I’m so bored!
Welcome to my life.
Anything! Let’s just do something.
What are you doing right now?
I’m walking in a circle.
Play with the dog.
I already did.
Play some more.
I’m bored with the dog. I’m bored with walking in a circle. What can we do? Can we go somewhere?
Don’t play with that.
I’m not! I’m just touching it.
Don’t touch it! I just put that there.
But I’m bored!
Mom finally got home from work and we all settled in for a midnight movie (The Enchanted Cottage), which I chose over National Treasure, which is what my mom started watching around three in the morning. The entire house vibrates with the surround-sound and I’ve been living on LA time all this week, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that:
A) I was having a dream about Nicolas Cage when
B) AB called my cell phone.
As frightening as it is to feel like I felt back when I was in high school, sitting in a room, writing, trying to do something to pass the time because I’m alone in the house, it’s kind of nice to have that feeling of home again. Our family has gone through so many changes over the past few years, it’s nice that even the uncomfortable feelings are familiar, and have something to do with the way my family works.
And really, I just have to embrace the fact that no matter where we live, we will be the crazy ones on the block.
Cue it up, Fergie; I feel another dance break coming on.