My parents have two extra bedrooms, a yard, and three dogs so we always stay with them when we go back home. There is never an issue with bringing our two loud, badly behaved, dachshunds with us.
Pulling into the neighborhood alone is always a fresh reminder of why I wanted to leave North Carolina. The architecture of the houses in the planned neighborhood is average. Many of the garages stick out to a distance in a place of more prominence than the front of the house. The facade of the average house is one third paneling, one third stone, one third garage door. Aggressively large American flags wave alongside partisan flags promoting various organizations of authority. There are also various garden chotskies that line the yard next to the driveway that holds four cars for a household with two drivers. In the summer days Men are seen grilling, mowing the lawn, trimming weeds, cutting grass on their hands and knees with scissors. At night, families are seen outside by a fire presumably enjoying their time together. In the winter months the grass dies and the men hibernate or probably just watch college basketball. They do this inside where you will see several pieces of art including a motivational quote in cursive writing, a quote from proverbs, and a canvas board that reads live, laugh, love.
This was not the family I grew up in. I grew up in an average home of a lower middle class family in the suburbs. I was trusted enough to mow the family lawn on weekends but never expected to get the stragglers with scissors. We did not spend time together by a fire. Sometimes my dad and I would watch tv together. He would watch football games with me on weekends. I did not watch tv with him other than that, I was frequently told “I don’t care” along with a menacing hand gesture when I would talk during his tv time, especially the weather. My mom did not join us in TV time. When I was young she suffered majorly from bipolar disorder. She slept most of the day and when she was awake she would usually drink and read Danielle Steele novels.
Those things sound bad, but I honestly forget most of it. I think I was too stupid to realize I didn’t have a good childhood in the moment. It probably spiced life up a bit, I definitely met some characters along the way. Now most people’s backgrounds sound kind of boring.
My childhood quality didn’t add a lot of burning desire to stay, but it is not why I wanted to leave. North Carolina is the place for no one and everyone. It is the state of compromise. It is cheap but there is nothing to do. There are mountains on one side and the beach on the other. It has a warm summer, but not unbearable. It has a just cold enough winter where you will see some snow, but will never have to shovel.
Raleigh has many prominent companies set up in the area but the best ones do not have their headquarters there. The folks who work at these companies are 9–5ers who do not strive to be one top, they work for their families and to give back to their communities, mainly by way of church.
The people of Raleigh are admirable, they are kind. But God, I hate them. They have no edge, their hobbies are church and the acoustic guitar. I never met a single functional drug addict or intriguing alcoholic in Raleigh. They all fall to the bottom, or maybe their communities take care of them? Maybe the church exterminates them, I’m not sure. Doing drugs, going too hard at work, being an asshole, gambling, being a degenerate in some way is what makes city living great. There are characters, extreme personalities. Raleigh is that coworker in IT who has fixed your computer like 15 times but you never remember their name because you don’t need to. You only talk to them when your computer breaks.
I enjoy staying with my parents if it has been an appropriate time gap. My mom is always cooking and the house is always clean. My 60 year old special needs aunt, Marge lives with them as well. Marge is full of life and excited about current events and neighborhood gossip. She is never sure how to communicate it though.
This trip is no different. Once we pull into the driveway, grab our bags, and walk onto the back porch Marge greets us with an excited “Oh Hello”. From there my parents come out where we exchange how all of us are doing, how the drive was, and how work is. From there my mom will apologize for how messy the house is despite it being cleaner than any house I have gone in and then she tells us she is making lasagna for dinner.
Once we settle in and talk a bit more, Mae goes upstairs to write and my mom goes off somewhere, but I don’t actually know where. She always does go away but I never know where, I can’t say I have ever asked. I think she does laundry or goes to the store. This is hard for me to wrap my head around as I do laundry about once every two weeks and grocery shop every 10 days. My mom is doing both every day. My mom still does not watch TV, but my dad watches as much as ever, but who doesn’t? I’m pretty sure I watch more than him. I judge him for what he watches, not the quantity. He watches reality shows about blue collar guys that live in mountains, drive trucks, drive around buying things from hoarders, and of course the weather.
This leads to a night of tv with guys, who are uncomfortable with their manhood, who work at a pawn shop. Soon enough we both decide it is getting late and it is time for bed. I grab our dogs, go upstairs and meet Mae. She is watching a youtube video but pauses to greet us and cuddle up with the dogs.
After reminiscing during the drive, soaking in the ways of my parents really sunk in and I was anxious to talk about life changes with Mae, but she was pretty zoned in on the youtube video so I knew better to ramble on. Sometimes I ramble on too much so that led me to write in here again. I may not have written every day, but by the end of the year if I write multiple times a day I can average once a day!
Anyway, it’s Friday and we are here until next Sunday so I will have plenty to write and recap.