Letter 28: On Being Home

6 Dec

Dear me at 17:

I’m going to give you a radical suggestion here:

Stay home.

That’s right. You heard me.

Stay home. Skip the party. Skip the movie. Skip the concert, or whatever else you had planned and stay home. Not because you’re grounded. Not because you’re being punished. But because this is the only time in your life where you will be able to do it.

In a few years you will get married. You will start a family. You will have a home of your own, decorated just the way you like. A place to put all your books. A place for your sweet little daughter to sleep. A place to snuggle with your husband.

You will love this home. You will feel completely comfortable there. It will be a place for you to call your own.

Your parents’ home will become just that: theirs. It will not feel like yours anymore. And that’s okay. But there will always be a piece of you that longs for that very distinct feeling of being “at home”, at 17, in your parents’ house.

If you stay home tonight, you might spend some time with your brother. Your little brother, who is actually still “little”. He is still playing with Lego and wearing superhero pajamas. He is still small enough to look up to you in a way that he won’t for much longer. Very soon he too will be very busy and very important.

If you stay home tonight, your Mother might order big, cheesy Reuben sandwiches and french fries from The Pickle Barrel. Your Dad will undoubtedly order Lox and Cream Cheese on a bagel, and also undoubtedly share a large portion of it with you, even though you originally claimed that you wouldn’t want any.

If you stay home tonight, you might watch a movie with your whole family. All together. You might all decide on a Michael Douglas thriller, because your Mother loves them and everyone knows that she has ants in her pants and won’t sit through a movie unless she is 100% interested. At the most suspenseful parts, she will shout out her predictions for the plot, which are inevitably correct, and you will all groan and laugh at the predictability of it all.

The things that now seem mundane to you will be imbued with a certain nostalgic magic as you age.

You will remember the cozy feeling of lying on the couch in the living room, curled up under your favourite dark green velvet throw. Your mother interrupting whatever television show you’re watching to ask if she can bring you tea, or a snack, or to tell you some long-winded story about socks, or your brother’s socks, or your brother’s friend, or some other thing you think you don’t have time for.

It might seem like a bother now, to be interrupted. In a few years time, you will be the one in charge of taking care of everyone else. You will be the Mommy. It will be your job to interrupt the program to deliver tea or snacks. Although your tea will never be as good as when your Mother makes it. And you will often think how nice it would be, during your busiest Mommy moments, to have your Mother bring you a cup of tea. To have someone take care of you again for a couple of minutes.

You will remember the sound of the garage door opening as your Father returned from work. You will remember that no matter how old you got, you always had a surge of residual “Daddy’s Home!” excitement carried over from your childhood. You will remember the smell of his cologne mixed with the fresh, cold, winter air as he kissed you hello. You will remember how you spoke of these moments in the Eulogy you gave at his memorial service. You will be reminded how even the most simple moments with him, the ones you could never have appreciated at the time, are the ones you now long for the most.

So, go cancel your plans. Stay at home. Eat some smoked meat and watch Michael Douglas do his thing. At the end of the night, give everyone an extra cuddle. And when your head hits the pillow, take a moment to listen to the sounds of the house. Your Mother still milling about. Your father flipping through his book. Your little brother, fast asleep in his room. Take a moment to reflect on how safe you feel, tucked away in your bed, everyone together under one roof.

You can always see your friends tomorrow. But for tonight, just revel in the comfort of being at home.



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15 Responses to “Letter 28: On Being Home”

  1. Juliana December 6, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Oh wow! If I wasn’t 100% sure that I spent the weekend cleaning house for company, hosting company and orchestrating our 4-year-old’s birthday party, I would think I had written this myself! Thanks for the great reminder of how things were.

    • thehindsightletters December 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

      I know, the holidays can be so busy! Especially with little ones. It’s hard to remember those simple pleasures sometimes… Thanks for reading!

  2. ChaseK8 December 6, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    very nice post, good advice to the past you, too bad we don’t have time travel I would go back and stay home, that for sure!!!

    • thehindsightletters December 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

      Thanks very much! I know, I wish I could go back in time and actually give myself this advice 🙂

  3. Nikole Hahn December 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Sounds like such a nice home. :o)

    • thehindsightletters December 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

      Aw, thanks! Don’t get me wrong, we definitely weren’t the Cleavers, but we did have our moments 🙂

  4. magnolia December 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    ugh, so true. the freedom and autonomy that comes with adulthood is great… until you really see all the strings that come along with it. sigh. adult life is a touch overrated, especially when you’re 17.

    • thehindsightletters December 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

      Totally! I feel like I wished away my adolescence to a certain extent, just itching to grow up. Then you learn that being an adult involves lots of buying your own toilet paper and filling up your gas tank 🙂 Definitely not all glamour!

  5. Christine December 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    You have captured that period in a family when they are on the threshold of a new chapter – the time just before a child moves out, moves on, moves away. My children are so close to stepping through to a new stage and your post has made me realise I must cherish every moment when they choose to “stay home”. I am confident your mother misses those times too. Thank you for sharing the warmth of your family.

    • thehindsightletters December 6, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

      Aw, thanks so much! I’m glad you liked the post! It’s definitely the little things- those silly moments- that you miss the most. Thanks for reading! (P.S. My Mom loved this post 🙂 )

  6. Mel December 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    So, since I am at ‘home’ (at the ripe old age of 31) I can say it is never the same, cozy, safe feeling that it was growing up. Even repeating all those old traditions of decorating the tree while we listen to Mariah Carey and setting up the jigsaw puzzle in the dining room feel somehow different as an adult. We really had no idea what we were missing out on way back when!

    • thehindsightletters December 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

      I totally thought about you guys while writing this post! Being at your parents’ home with your own children is definitely a whole other ball game 🙂


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