Cleaning Out The Attic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
An ex-Pat experiences Thanksgiving in a country that doesn't recognize it. Reminiscing does not diffuse his frustrations with his family.

Submitted: November 23, 2012

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Submitted: November 23, 2012



Cleaning Out The Attic

November 22, 2012: Thanksgiving Day

Not In America



“I'm sittin' in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me”


“Homeward Bound” – Simon & Garfunkel



For the first time since October 3, day one of my arrival in London from America, I have been invaded by a vague sense of homesickness. There is no one in particular inhabiting my family tree that I miss more than another. In fact, ‘vague’ was my way of implying that I’m missing the concept of family, in the abstract. Hell, it is Thanksgiving, and they do not recognize, celebrate or endorse our pillaging of the Pilgrims over here on this side of the pond.


Specifically, I’m where I want to be. In a pub, alone, quaffing a Guinness and bleeding a little onto my laptop. Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” (a famous lane in London) spills out of the overhead stereo speakers.


My love has unselfishly taken Leo for a walk in the incredible park minutes from our abode to afford me this period of reflection and writing. Yesterday, under my charge, Leo took an inadvertent and short swim in the duck and goose-infested lake that is the centerpiece to this sprawling London park called Grovelands. Mistaking the three feet of leaves coating the water that extended from the shore as land, he unwittingly plopped in in futile pursuit of a duck that had successfully bated him into his world. Leo suddenly realized his horrific miscalculation and with a look on his face that a high Mick Jagger might sport after strolling inadvertently into a quilting bee, Leo’s countenance showed a stunned, thousand-yard-stare as he discovered three fundamental aspects to his ill-advised leap: the water was fucking freezing; the duck was long gone; and he could actually swim. Panicked, he climbed up onto the shallow wooden dock that had been his launching point and spent the next ten minutes shaking himself violently.


Quite the segue, that paragraph was, wasn’t it? Put a smile back on my face though, and moved California another thousand miles west.


In many respects, seven weeks is a long time to have pass before such melancholic and nostalgic feelings as the ones that have slowly but insistently washed up on the shores of my soul since my 5am arousal from bed this morning. The American holiday can’t be discounted as at least a partial source, but the consistent cold and rainy and stormy weather and the lack of warmth from the yellow globe when it does make a rare appearance, will put any Californian in a mood for the Pacific Ocean.


Putting pen to paper about these emotions, or fingers to keyboard as it were, has illuminated what was initially murky. The ‘vague’ and ‘abstract’ descriptions of my longing brought abruptly to the surface, not unlike Leo’s bobbing, stunned head yesterday, my age-old ambivalence about my family. It makes sense that it would take a 6000 mile, country-swapping sojourn away from them to prompt even these semi-unflattering emotions from their now ex-patriot brother.


I wish it were different. I have always wished I felt differently. I have wrestled with; in fact continue to grapple with, the conflicting, incongruous images of who is to blame for my estrangement. I have not always pointed the fickle finger of accusation away from my own carapace. Yet I still end up on the same solo lily pad in the sometimes tranquil pond that is my family, floating amongst them, yet somehow fundamentally on the outside looking in. Not ultimately giving a shit who is to blame as the bottom line, my emotional distance from them, trumps almost everything, except possibly my increasing inclination to match that distance geographically.


I suspect Christmas Day will have less of an impact for me in this area, simply because London, all of Europe in fact, celebrates this holiday, and getting caught up in that will be a pleasant distraction. Thanksgiving always held a unique appeal for me in that it avoided religion and god.


This issue will probably only linger as long as I’m above ground. Then it should dissipate.




© Copyright 2018 Bill Rayburn. All rights reserved.

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