I don’t know how many times I told her to stop biting her damn fingernails before I slapped her hand away from her trembling lips. They were newly painted with a crimson coat, already succumbing to her inability to remain calm. My mother, hesitant, finally stepped out of the passenger seat, reluctant to inhale her apprehension. It was like we were in slow motion, avoiding something. The air was inexplicably still: whether that was the result of tension or relief, I couldn’t observe. Decent-looking, the faded coloring of the bricks evoked a sense of welcoming, a touch of warmth. Perhaps the inside did too, but I could only base the floating images from my mother’s apathetic words. Her descriptions, formed from fourteen-year-old memories, lacked detail, so I was left with little to work with. From the passenger’s seat of the car, the house contradicted itself: it looked lonely, but so seemingly able to draw people near, to keep people close. Ironic, I suppose, that such a welcoming home had not yet served company to a single laugh or to a quartet of bundled carolers on that Christmas Day. She inched along the concrete steps to the doorway with bitter lips, convinced that he would sigh and turn his back, shun her like he always had. I put a hand to my heart, feeling the irregularity in its rhythm. The ostentatious knocker seemed so seemingly dull until my incredulous expression pointed towards the open doorway with my eyes zoomed in on an unfamiliar figure. My uncle was there, his face decorated with aluminum frames and silver hair. The very uncle that I had last seen when I was two and too young to remember. His stomach jutted out, forcing his argyle shirt to stretch around his rotund figure. He was family, blood, and part of me. Shutting the engine, my grandmother hobbled unsteadily to give her Alfredo a kiss. That moment, surely, was the beginning I had waited for. The beginning of feeling a sense of home, regardless of the past.
June 9, 2012