We were going to hear an essay I’d written performed at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Texas Bound Reading Series, and as we waited to board the plane, I felt something close to giddy.
It had been a long time since we’d all gone anywhere together like that. Jobs, husbands, and children all pull us in different directions now that we’re grown up. We all live about five minutes from each other, but it’s still remarkably hard to get together. Life gets in the way.
And so, a trip. We all signed on as soon as we heard the essay had been chosen for the program. It was a great excuse to get together, and go stay in a hotel, and order room service. Plus, the essay is all about how great my mom is, and how I endeavor every day to take care of my own children as well as she took care of us. We all wanted to stand up and cheer for that.
I can’t remember the last time we took a family vacation, just the four of us like we used to be. My parents divorced when I was young, and that feeling of belonging to a house full of girls still lingers with me. Even though the house itself is long-sold. Even though the girls themselves have grown up.
On the plane ride up and back, I sat next to my little sister. I watched her hands as she gestured and spoke, and I couldn’t believe how much they still look like the hands she had when she was a little girl. I can still remember her four-year-old hands—I can see them in my mind: how soft they were, the curve of the fingernails.
Of course, when you’re young, you define yourself in opposition to your family. If your sister is a cheerleader, you have to be something else. When you live in the close quarters of a family home, sometimes all you can see is how the people around you are not the same.
But then you go out into the wide world. And those freckles your sisters have, or that particular tilt to the eyebrows, or that manner of walking—these things aren’t out there in the quantities you might have assumed. You start to miss them. You start to miss all the things about your childhood home that you cannot get back. Once you’re out, you wish you could back in.
But you can’t. Instead, you take trips and order room service.
This morning at breakfast we constructed elaborate plans to take a girls’ weekend—just the four of us—every year. Just to reconnect. Just to get a little taste of home. Who knows if we’ll actually do it? But one thing was clear to me this weekend, as we walked with our rolling bags through the concourse: Sometimes you have to go away to get home.
You can visit her website at http://www.katherinecenter.com/.