The surprisingly complex concept was brilliant in its seeming simplicity; implementation was not! Laina had long since made arrangements to return to Michigan over Christmas, meaning that the trip would have to be a quick one if she were to be a part of it. I went back and forth on the idea for the better part of a month, trying to be sure I wasn't spending too much energy on nostalgia at the expense of the future; it was quickly becoming obvious that if we rented the car and drove to Boise, my 2010 departure would have to be delayed as long as a month, possibly until February. All this for two full days in Idaho! Two days for a month? Every part of logic & common sense said this was silly, and around December 10, I phoned Lynette and told her that I just didn't see how this would work. Fortunately, common sense has never been my overly dominant trait!
Over the next week or so, my decision created a whole lot of quiet friction, the kind I have learned to pay attention to. The brand of friction telling me I'm off track regardless of conventional wisdom. This was an opportunity that was never going to come along again: to spend New Year's; no! THIS New Year's with Shelly, Lynette, Dave, Ben, Brad, Mike, Amanda, Stephanie...even Quincy & Dogg. To do it THIS YEAR was very important to me, and to simply blow it off because it may slightly "complicate January" was shameful, in direct contrast to everything I had come to believe, and resembled an "invitation to mutual apathy." An apathy that we've become all too familiar with for various reasons; I was not going to perpetuate if I could help it.
The beginning of a new decade was fitting as well: quietly reflecting on the last year of course, but also on the decades lost while consciously marking very real new beginnings. No, this obviously meant more to me than I realized and, one way or another, I was going to be in Boise, Idaho on 12/31...if not before. (Note to the wise: get out of my way when I decide I AM doing something!)
This is significant in more ways than one may realize, and this realization threw your humble scribe for a large-scale loop. I hate the holidays. Christmas in particular. With a passion not-of The Christ. I have a philosophically-driven disdain for the consumer-driven displays that drive the "Christ" holiday of course, but more important to this narrative is the source of silent pain it causes. Every Thanksgiving & Christmas is a reminder of what I don't have. Family. I've tried to spend Christmas with my mother, sister, and nephew over the years, but it's forced & contrived. We were there for my mother and out of a sense of guilt ridden obligation, not because we were family. Whenever I would look at my sister forcing her smiles on these holidays, I would hear her screeching, telling a 3-year old Todd how he was a "mistake." One of my first memories; that will sear one's vision of family and make one wonder about the "what ifs" of life...eventually of conveniently disclosed "mythical" family members!
With all this being said, it's not surprising that it is peculiar for me to attribute real significance to it, even New Year's. I've spent a few Christmases with Laina and her family in the years we've been together, and while they were nice, I've always been a bit uncomfortable. For one, it was difficult for me to figure out how to function within this foreign dynamic. But, more significantly I was left selfishly and habitually feeling victimized. I was riding in someone else's Bentley.
Who loves his metaphors?
I rarely see things while immersed in the moment so I had no idea why it was so important for me to do whatever it took to get to Idaho. I just knew that it was. 2009 was an incredibly powerful year where we altered many decades-old foundational perspectives. Most of that revolved around Lynette & Shelly and the time that was spent with them, and as silly as it may seem to some, reconciling it was important. It was important to SEE Lynette & Michelle in the same room. It was important for me to get a picture with the three of us together, and for whatever reason it was necessary to do it now. It was important to me to keep the momentum of '09 building, rather than taking for granted there would be other opportunities like this. There wouldn't. It was important to put forth the effort and make the sacrifice for this work. If that meant delaying my 2010 departure for a few weeks, so be it. I laughed when it dawned on me that perhaps this isn't so remarkable after all; maybe this is what families that care for one another do? Apparently (and amazingly), at least I do. It's always shocking to be introduced to a new facet of yourself. There would be much more of that to come!
I let Laina decide what she wanted to do, and that would lay the framework for my own visit. I was more-than-slightly pissed that spending more than 2-days in Boise was not even an option if she were to be part of it. Her dad had bought a ticket home...in July. I found that to be shortsighted on their part, especially considering everything that had happened even up until that point; I had just ended my Adventuriso Familia in Michigan. But, their shortsightedness was understandable. My 5-weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's have been a predictable dead-zone. Her decision would determine whether we rented a car or if I would just get a bus ticket north to surprise everyone on Christmas Eve. (Never mentioned that, did I Lynette?) That would have extended my stay by a week or so, but with Shelly flying in I calculated that there would be between 6 & 8 people already there. Plus, for the reasons above, I'm not generally at my best around Christmas! It would be far better to forgo my longer stay to give Laina an opportunity to meet this part of my family and to feel a part of all this beyond the support system.
Hearkening back to recent & familiar times, once my decision was made and I was willing to briefly postpone things in 2010, things fell magically into place. Laina flew to Michigan for her extended Christmas with family, while I spent the day of Our Redeemers birth sleeping and Skyping. Literally. I slept 'til 5pm fighting off a cold or something, then chatted via Skype with everyone in Boise. That was my Christmas; just like the old days!
When Laina returned on the 27th, we had a couple of days to prepare and by the time the rental was picked up on the afternoon of the 29th I was ready to go, but wondering if I had fabricated its significance. I had unwittingly set some high expectations...