Going home to a place I've never lived
It's hard as hell to explain my Christmas plans to people. If I aim for accuracy, then the conversation goes like this:
"What are you doing for Christmas?"
"Me? Oh, I'm going to Monahans to visit my mom and my family. It's right outside of Midland."
"Oh, is that where you grew up?"
"Hell no. I was born in El Paso but went to high school in Alpine. My mom just lives there now because she recently got married and her husband lives there."
"Oh, does your family live there?"
"No, they live in El Paso. They're just visiting, too."
From there, it's bound to spiral downwards as I attempt to avoid detailing the intricacies of marriages and families and moves that have led to this point where I'm going "home" for Christmas to a house I'm seeing for the first time in my life. Or course, I may be more gunshy than most, since I'm always afraid that people are eager to psychoanalyze me to figure out where I get my weird opinions, so that probably feeds that anxiety.
I have this type of conversation more that I'd think, considering the fact that it's not uncommon at all for people my age to have histories of moving around, ditching Shitsville for the bright lights of the city, or having parents rearrange their personal lives long after the children have grown. I mean, how many people can really say their parents live in the house that they grew up in? But I think that's still the standard that we measure "going home" by--the mythology is that we return to our childhood home for Christmas, new partner/spouse along for the ride, sleep in the bedroom we grew up in that's a little more grown-up looking but still has the same color scheme that we decorated it with as teenagers, and then spend the vacation regressing a little bit and telling our childhood stories to our slightly dazed significant other.
This fantasy has a powerful pull on people, and I expect this year to hear a couple of snarky comments from family members about how we "always do Christmas" at my grandmother's house in El Paso. Luckily, we have the same food we eat every year to get us over the hump of change. My sister in particular was raving about the fact that my mother is getting back to making rum balls, which are very good but are mostly notable for being something she hasn't bothered with since we were small children.
Traditions are nice enough, I guess, but when everyone starts rhapsodizing about them, I tune out. I welcome change much of the time, and changes that should bother me, like my mom marrying and moving away, don't bother me at all, except that I do miss her. Mostly I don't think of "home" as being West Texas at all, and I'm glad for it. My home is here in Austin. The fact that there is no childhood home for me to visit cuts down on the pressure to pretend that I feel much at all that I'm back "home", when I know that the place that really feels home to me is with my boyfriend and cats, with my friends and my breakfast tacos.
I am looking forward to seeing my family, but I know after I leave "home", I'll be tired and glad to be back home.