The following is but a demonstration of the wealth there is in our being Irish. My older sister insists that the wonderful thing about the Irish is they are always fey, or a bit off the ground.
While getting drunk and shooting at each other seem also to be part of our heritage, my sister is right. Fey, I am proficient in time travel, fairie field trips and imaginings that soar and dip and fly me away to visit the home where I grew up 79 years ago. It still stands, by the way. As do I, mostly.
A recent incident with my starry-eyed friends, the faeries, went like this.
I left the house early in the morning and huffed up River Road, resolute in my resolve to exercise, a little bit anyway, and then to return home by way of the Town Baker. I had gone only a block or so when I met the fairies. I stopped to visit for a moment, admiring their holiday jerkins and quaint little caps. It was cold alright. The ends of their noses were bright red. They asked, “What would you like to do today, Bobbie?”
Those faeries. They are always so, so engaging. The faeries have access to tickets to anywhere, making them good folk to know.
As we stood there in the watery sunlight, this is what I told them: “Today, please, with your help, I will go to the house and the land where I lived as a child. It is where I celebrated so many Christmases, and, this time of year especially, I am painfully nostalgic for its sights and smells.
“And once there, with no one to observe me, I will lie down in the damp, brown grass and inhale deeply. I had hoped for spring, but it is, of course, winter.
“I will look up at the house, at my windows on the second floor. Rolling to my back I see the sky. It is late afternoon and the clouds are leaden with that good old Illinois gray. A car passes on the dirt road, our road. The snow chains crunch and clatter and the gravel pings off the fenders. Our dogs, Lassie and Jet, lie waiting in the ditch, ready to attack and maul the automobile as it passes. Their perception of size was always askew.
“Springing forward like wilding creatures, they disappear down the road yelping furiously.
“The crabapple tree beneath whose branches I am sprawled is bare, stark against the sky. A cardinal, radiant in his red plumage, wings in. I am still. He does not see me. Or perhaps this being fairy time, I am invisible.
“Sitting up, I can just see into the dining room where my family has gathered for breakfast: Fred, Frank, Sue, Mame, Joe. I watch them for a moment and then begin to cry. A few moments later I turn to loud and messy sobbing. I cry from somewhere way down with longing so poignant that I think I will break in two.
“Wishing, wishing for all that was, for all that is just past that window. My mother. My father. The cardinals. Lassie and Jet. The smell. For all the time that it takes, I weep my yearning. Then I rise and return to Idyllwild. I will die there most likely. If I’m lucky.”
And to those who say you can’t go home again, I can only suggest walking River Road, over near Oakwood and watching for the little people.
Tickets to anywhere. Cut rate and First Class. And though it is Christmas and frigid where I grew up, not once was I cold. Not once.