Ever since I was 18, traveling for the Christmas holiday has been the norm, one that I expect and cautiously dread, though the experience is always assuaged by Starbucks red cups and the onslaught of holiday hits that this pop-loving heart can't get enough of. Whether it was flying from Seattle, Bethlahem, Albuquerque, or Mexico, it's all a part of it. But all of those trips have always landed me squarely at SFO, hopping into my parents' SUV, talking about my flight, what's new at home, and what the Christmas Eve menu is going to look like. This year was different; this year Austin and I booked tickets for Florida to visit his family for a few days and then to spend the rest of our two week vacation in Cuba.
I've always been pretty attached to my family, especially my parents. Their voices and opinions are instilled in me, if not ingrained. When I was a kid or a teenager, this was a helpful thing; if left to my own devices, I would have made many a bad decision, not just limited to my already questionable fashion sense or penchant to talk about poop. But I've been doing a lot of growing up this past year, not in the ways that people expect progression to look like, but in the ways that are teaching me about who I really am, how to love and be loved (starting with myself), and what I actually believe or don't believe. These questions have opened me up, softened me, but being a personal essayist has made it hard to write about in any sort of declarative way. I've been taking myself too seriously, a severe buzzkill when it comes to artistry of any sort.
One of the byproducts of sitting with bigger queries has been that I'm looking critically at my tribe, what I've been taught and what I've contributed to, just trying to get curious about the stories that have been passed down generation to generation, especially about who the women in my family are and ought to be. A few years ago, it would have broken some glitter-covered heirloom glass piece of my heart to not be home for Christmas, whose unfettered expectancy I always joyfully anticipate, missing out on all of our traditions and rituals, feeling connected to my family in this way that only Mariah Carey knows how to facilitate. But this year it almost felt fitting-- when your internal world is shifting and looking like new land all over again, it helps to have your outsides match your insides.
These past few weeks will take time to elucidate, a gift I fully plan to use. Until then!