Monday, August 15, 2011

Mashed Potatoes

We got back from California on Saturday afternoon and my expectations were not met. What I expected was this: I was going to get off the plane and it was going to be hot like someone emptied the contents of a jacuzzi over my head. Then I was going to drive home and all my zinnias were going to be dead and the sun was going to set through the trees behind our back yard tattoo parlor, and I was going to sit on the porch and drink a cold can of seltzer water under the rattly fan, and I was going to feel like Bilbo Baggins at the end of The Hobbit: relieved and pleasantly exhausted and victorious and a tiny bit bored. Because that heady feelings cocktail is a big reason people invented homes to begin with. It's also why people invented long term romantic relationships.

The funny thing was, coming home didn't feel like that at all. We walked off the plane and the heat wasn't half as overwhelming as I had hoped--in fact, I don't think it broke 90 that day. Driving home from the airport, I noticed the wind kind of rustled through the tops of the trees like it does sometimes in mid August, just before the summer goes through a midlife crisis, buys a really obnoxious car and makes everybody miserable for a couple weeks. My plants weren't even all that dead (thanks Ben!). But besides all that, something just felt weird. The only way to describe it is that I came Home and Home didn't recognize me.

So here's what I did: I waited until the sun went down and I went for a drive. I took some overdue books back to the library, slid them into the after hours book drop and listened to them clump when they hit the bottom of the box. I went to Daily Groceries and selected vegetables while the girl behind the counter tried to convince the night manager not to cut his hair. I drove past some parties that were spilling out of houses into front yards, and I knew by the looks of those guys that they were probably graduate students in the Poultry Sciences department. I went to Vision Video and forgot how to act around the cashier so that he wouldn't judge me for not renting something French. And then I drove home in a bemused sort of stupor.

But then it kind of hit me as I was driving up Sunset: it wasn't the place that didn't feel like home. It was me that was different.

I sometimes forget that I'm a little bit like a pile of mashed potatoes--my brain is, I mean. And, you know, I'm generally pretty pleased with the reality of my potato lump. Usually the pile just sits there on the plate in the regular old lump shape, but then sometimes it's like someone walks by with a butter knife and spends some time rearranging the shape of my potato lump. Like maybe they make it look like a topiary of a goose or something. And after that things just feel a little different for a while until the goose falls over and it goes back to being a lump shape again.

What I'm saying is, traveling sometimes makes you different. It made me different this time and though I'd like to discuss this in greater detail, it's one in the morning now and I have to get up at 7 to write a newsletter. So fun!

Bonne nuit!


  1. i forgot how to act cool at vision video about 4 years ago...

  2. ah jesslyn I love your posts! What a great writer you are. I love the bit about August's mid-life crises.