Without a Direction [Back] Home

January 19, 2010
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“And how does it feel to be home, bud?” asks my brother—pulling into the neighborhood—as he takes his last drag from his Newport cigarette, flicks it out the window and turns down the radio.

“Dad and Allie have missed you, you know?”

“Yeah—I guess . . . it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.”

He parks in his usual manner, at a side-slant in the middle of the driveway, disallowing my dad to park alongside his angelic white 93’ Le Baron. Dad has accepted this parking job and thereby has been parking on the street ever since Grant began driving. We walk in. He heads directly to the fridge despite our stop at McDonald’s only a half an hour ago; boys will be boys. Meanwhile, I take inventory of the place; the chairs, sofas, television, and cat all assume a position identical to that which I had seen too often in my reminiscence while at school. Home, sweet home I think to myself as I allow my bags to crash thunderously onto the wooden floor.

Down the stairs bolts Dad. “My boy,” he says as if he didn’t expect to see me, “How are you?”

The usual greeting: hello . . . missed you . . . how have things been? . . . report card was mailed, looks good. All is routine and eventually monotonous. Wait. What the hell is that? Dad shaved his famous ebony goatee, leaving a mere patchy mustache. He has more grey hairs than I remembered, too. Whatever.

I proceed upstairs to my bedroom with my knapsack of belongings. I throw my bags on my bed. My bed that isn’t made—why isn’t my bed made? My bed is always made: two ruby red sheets with my velvety black comforter thrown over-top. “Oh yeah, dad took your sheets off to wash about three months ago, right after you left for school. Guess he never got to putting them back on,” says Grant from his bed on the bottom bunk where he eats a slice of frozen pepperoni pizza. Alright–plausible explanation. I’ll just sleep on the couch tonight; I would rather fall asleep downstairs watching Sportscenter, anyway.

An echoing nuisance begins downstairs. That sound is unfamiliar, at best. I go to see what that raucous annoyance is, only to find that dad is vacuuming downstairs. He’s a bit of a neat freak in that sense, vacuuming a minimum twice a day as us kids “have no respect for his house.” That sound is just not quite right. I examine from the staircase . . . that vacuum is not the one I recall using religiously in the summer. The old one was black and full of niches and bumps derived from overuse. But this one is violet, shiny, new. Purple, for God’s sake! What was wrong with the old one? It’s not too old. As I seriously contemplate, Divine Intervention sets in to remind me that we did get it immediately before I left for school . . . sophomore year. Knowing my dad, that machine in all likelihood had been working a nine-to-five for a good two years now.

Grant hollers from the computer room back upstairs for my presence. I obediently make my way up the latter portion of steps which is a leisurely stroll in comparison to the trek up the multi-thousand step staircases of the dorms. He wants to play me some new music. He always wants to play me some new music. It’s always the same music though—some sort of underground, new-age, distorted, raging crap—in actuality. “Are you ready for this?”—as he always warns as if I was to prepare myself to hear something I haven’t heard before. “Yeah… Let me here it.”

Boom . . . boom . . . boom . . . The bass exhausting our itty-bitty speakers, enough even to mandate them to vibrate and shake in a pleading manner. I stand patiently awaiting the arrival of some distorted-beyond-belief guitar riff to end the intro. But it never comes. What does meet the ear is a combination of one-syllable jargon spit so quickly that it prohibits comprehension to any meaningful degree. Not quite “rap,” at least not how contemporary, “Top 40” rap is defined today. But rather, I decipher some funky white guy satirically commenting on the clichés of the modern hip-hop industry and its constituents. It’s clever, thought-provoking, and (insert positive description here). It’s a lot of things . . . but definitely not my brother, not Grant.

“When did you start listening to this garbage?”

“I don’t know, a while ago,” he replies. I respond jokingly, “Man, you’ve changed.”
He hits back without missing a beat, “Luke, of course I’ve changed. Things change. People change. That’s what time does; Where have you been?”

The epiphany: All becomes clear. I exit the computer room without requesting permission, without a single word. I go into my room . . . at least the “Times They Are A-Changin’” album cover still hangs dormant on my wall above my dresser. Bobby Dylan knows what’s up: “And how does it feel? To be without a home . . . Without a direction home.”

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kschum said...
Jan. 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm
And now for the rest of the story!!!!!!
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