Saturday, November 28, 2009

One Night at Christmastime

Picture 237

I hope that days like today will be the backbone of what Pie recalls as a warm and happy childhood, hope that in her memories I'll be a beloved figure who was a source of kindness and magic.

She's asleep on the couch right now, dozing in the dim light of our Christmas decorations after a long and active day.

My parents were on a trip today with Grand Pa Hick Family and his girlfriend to Largest City, leaving Beautiful Cousin and I to tend for Pie. She had a soccer practice this morning at eleven-thirty that my cousin took her to (I wasn't even close to being out of bed), and then later in the afternoon she, Thomas, and I headed to the Western City Mall to see New Moon in the theater they have there.

She enjoyed the movie and later took great delight in imitating Bella's gasping dialogue while Beautiful Cousin and I laughed at the accuracy of her mimicking.

After the movie, I took my brother and sister to McDonald's, where Pie whispered that she wanted "a boy Happy Meal."

She's a tough little girl.

We arrived back at our house after four hours out and Thomas headed next door to attend the neighbors' party, leaving my sister and I to occupy ourselves on a Saturday night while Beautiful Cousin studied downstairs.

Pie picked up a balloon that's been sitting around the house for the last few days and decided that we should play at keeping the sphere from touching the ground, otherwise "the vampires will eat us."

Before long the latex thing was careening off of walls, bouncing from lamps and doorknobs while the two of us slid across the house attempting to bat it into the air from the most improbable of angles.

Pie had the inspired idea that we should kick the ball every time it came to us, and, like the uninhibited genius I am, I agreed to abide by this rule while running across the hardwood kitchen floor in my socks.

Only minutes into this game Pie took a spectacular fall, something I pointed and laughed at before helping her up.

Just moments later I repeated the move with much more panache. I aimed a kick at the balloon that sent my right foot hurling into the air, my left foot flying out from under me, and my writhing body catapulting for the floor, where I landed squarely on my rear end with a terrific thump.

"Ow!" I cried out. "My butt!"

I jumped up and down, clutching my injured rear end while Pie fell over herself laughing.

"Oh, and it's only one side!" I complained.

I quickly got entirely too into this, indulging at least as much as my first-grade sister.

Whenever a lamp wobbled, or a picture teetered dangerously from its rung on the wall after a collision with the balloon, my sister and I would cover our mouths, stare at each other with wide eyes, and laugh in mischievous collusion.

After one paticularly loud bang that Beautiful Cousin no doubt attributed to the small child in the house and not the twenty-one-year-old who shouldn't have been conducting himself like such an idiot, the college freshman called up the stairs, "KNOCK IT OFF!"

We stopped and shared a conspiratorial glance before I reluctantly surrendered to responsibility and said, "Okay, Pie, let's go play something else."

We headed for the sitting room and lay down beneath the artificial Christmas tree, staring up into the plastic and metal interior through which the multicolored lights with which it was strung shone muted.

"I spy something green," Pie challenged.

I thought about it a minute.

"The Christmas tree?" I asked.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, perhaps amazed at my powers of detection.

She seemed to sense after a few minutes that the possibilities for I Spy were of a limited nature when played from under our tree, so we emerged and spent the next half hour picking out the most obscure Christmas ornaments we could think of for each other to find.

This diversion concluded, we returned to the tent of manmade pine needles for a game of Would You Rather.

"Would you rather eat dog poop or dog pee?" my sister asked.

"Dog poop," I answered. "Would you rather eat brussell sprouts or broccoli?"

"Ew, broccoli," she returned. "Would you rather eat poop or blood?"

"Definitely poop."

"Okay. Would you rather live in spikes, or poop?"

"What is it with you and poop?"

We attempted a board game that thoroughly tired her out, and now she's gone to the world.

As I sat stroking her soft cheek, brushing the hair from her smooth forehead, a sudden and profound sadness came over me. I am home now, in the bosom of my adolescence, living in effect the same life in the same house that I've been living since I was seventeen. I am Pie's older brother, Thomas's companion, Powell's friend, David and Marie's son.

Sitting there, embracing my sister, I couldn't help but wonder how many quiet nights like this we'd have before this was no longer our mutual home. How long would it be until I left this place, until I became an entity of my own, until my position was not that of subordinate to my parents and equal to my brothers and sister, but independent unit? How many more cold evenings of contentment will pass until I'm of this family but no longer in it?

I'm not ready. I just want to go up to whoever is operating the control panel of my life, shake him by the shoulders, and scream that in his face.

"I'm not ready!" I'd cry, manhandling him until he was afraid. "Do you understand? It's too soon! I don't want to leave! I'm happy here!"

I feel as if I'm plunging towards a world that I don't want, can't understand, and am unprepared for, a world in which I'll be torn from her arms and from everything I love.

Even when locked securely within the warmth and safety of my cushioned home, I fear the winter winds that blow outside.

Picture 251


naturgesetz said...

You will always have these times with you, as precious memories. They are forever part of you.

Amélie said...

I know how you feel.

I'm so excited to finish my degree and finally be "independent" but deep down I'm really quite scared too. I love my room. I love this house. I love the familiarities of my family. I can't imagine being a visitor to this house. I can't imagine living all on my own, having to work full time for the rest of my adult life.... but I don't know... I guess it's the one last phase to our growing up... and when it happens I'm sure we'll be ready enough.

Ryan said...

I know how you feel. And I must say, you tell the memory well.. I feel as if I am there, living it along side you... thanks for sharing

Lots of love,

kj said...

no, brightenedboy, you don't have to leave. you don't have to be ready. you will grow into yourself, that is true, but your ties, your bonds--they will stay with you. change shape perhaps, but you will not lose them. i can promise you that because you and they are bonded in love.

i love how you write about pie. my god, how you love her!

and besides, even if your knees are knocking, you can still walk, y' know....


secret agent woman said...

Catching up. I have some sibs who are a lot younegr than me, so that our relationship is something in between siblings and more of a parent-child relationship. You'll never lose the relationship you are building with her now.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

You are a wonderful big brother. She will always remember these times. Now for a little surprise for you. You will always be "subordinate to my parents" no matter where you live. My kids both live on their own. They still call when they are sick, have a question, need advice or just want to hear mom's voice. When we go visit my daughter, she sleeps like a rock. She says it is the time when she "isn't in charge" and she can really relax. In fact I still feel the same way about my parents. My mom will still say to me "I'm the mother" if she thinks I sound a bit too mouthy. Just because you leave the is still your home. Don't panic.


mo.stoneskin said...

Your powers of detection are indeed remarkable, I would never want to play "I Spy" with you as I wouldn't stand a chance...


tattytiara said...

Older people who make any kind of time for us when we're young are so precious, let alone family who take the time to care for us and have fun with us and just spend time being close to us.

I'm sure her young memories of you will always be among her most very precious.

BBC said...

Geez, you are so young, but your perspectives seem to be lining up okay. Thanks for the comment on my blog but.....

It's foolish to think Canada is going to keep accepting us. Secession of the Northern states wouldn't make any difference or even be possible at this time.

I suggest that you just find a good place to hide if you need to.

Anonymous said...

Wow, is all I can say. Wow at how you write, wow at the warmth in this, wow at you being such a great, playful brother for Pie.
Thanks for letting me find your blog. Maybe I will find some of the insights I need.

Tina said...

Only just getting here. You write well and with great emotion. Sometimes it is the things that scare us which bring us most joy and satisfaction in the end. Obviously don't go down dark scary alleyways on your own or anything..

Anonymously Me said...

You make me wish I had a little sister.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Glad I found my way to your blog. Good writing, I felt as if I was spying on you and your terrific baby sister!

penguinone said...

reminds me of my little brother and I...
great post, makes me more determined to value the upcoming Holidays... and all the little moments at home.

Mozart said...

I always wanted the boy Happy Meals too. :)

Carlos said...

Very sweet account.

Gaston Studio said...

What beautiful writing! My first time here and I came over because you left an astute comment on my lastest post.
Obviously, don't know your background here but hope to get around to reading most of your previous posts soon.
Thanks for visiting and... I'll be back!