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Visiting the old home town moves me to tears. Nostalgia, that curious force that opposes the notion that one cannot go home again, kicks in whenever I show up here. I ache only a little bit for the good old days, which were neither that good nor particularly old then. I’m moved by the hospitality.

Maybe absence does make hearts grow fonder, or perhaps the simple prospect of my leaving again makes it easier for others to appreciate my presence. My temporary presence might collapse what would otherwise swell into onerous obligation, freeing both my generous hosts and I from the normal day-to-day complications permanence insists upon.

I keep to the shadows anyway, attentive that I might too easily get underfoot without even noticing. I didn’t come back here to cause any trouble for anybody—not even me—yet I know I could be trouble personified without ever noticing.

We seem to be of that age where we no longer feel the need to pretend to be anybody we never were, and we carry our quirks like small change. It might jingle without ever being worth noticing.

The Granddaughters appreciate our presence, though we can seem annoying to their status quo. The Grand Otter seems too resigned and I cannot help trying to enthuse her, though I know nobody can force enthusiasm upon any dedicated grump. I pass permissive yes-es her way. The Grand Other seems to need a little seasoning, the influence only terrible grand parenting provides. She hears more “no!” than she’s accustomed to, but she’s resilient, and I compensate by making up silly songs and pretending with her. She still pretends very well.

The old place invites me to dig in her familiar dirt. I imagine that I’m wrestling with the great, great, great grandchildren of the weeds I extracted before. The same weeds seem to inhabit the same spaces, though I was certain I pulled roots and all the last time. I might be part of their propagation strategy, called back into service when some balance shifted. A decade from now, should I not have yet returned more permanently, that call will go out again and I will be back, digging familiar weeds in familiar dirt, appreciating the hospitality of my apparent opponents, who seem to depend upon me to restore some mysterious something to a landscape that otherwise hardly knows me anymore.

My brother and sister-in-law don’t seem that tired of our presence (yet). My son-in-law and his partner seem genuinely grateful we’re here. I some days feel like the grand marshal in a subtle parade passing through. Nobody’s sent me packing yet. Yet.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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