21 November 2012

Just Nearly Asleep

Autumn Landscape, Vincent Van Gogh, November 1885

              I feigned sleep in the booth in the back of the restaurant on top of a pile of coats. My parents bantered with my aunts and uncles and their laughter filtered through a blanket of cigarette smoke and came to rest on my nose and ears and eyelids. When it was time to go home I fell into the warmth of Dad’s arms as he lifted me out into the sweet brisk November air that graces New England at the same time the frost paints landscapes on the windowpanes. On the ride home my brothers and I snuggled like puppies in the backseat of the minivan and by the time the tires rolled onto the gravel driveway my sleep was no longer artificial. We were thankful for each other that night and many nights after that.
              Now we are older, and many things have changed. Cigarettes aren’t allowed in the restaurant anymore and the booth was replaced a few years ago. We don’t all go home to the same place each evening and my little sister who was too young for this memory is old enough to live on her own with an ocean between us. Not everyone will be together for the holiday and I will miss them, but through change the important things remain constant. My parents’ arms are still warm and my family’s laughter is still comforting and the November air is still sweet and brisk, and today we are blessed and tonight we will fall asleep thankful for each other. I sit here and write, and write each word with thanksgiving, and my smiles remain as I remember a little girl just nearly asleep on a pile of coats.

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