I’ve been home with my family for 24 hours and because of the cold, wet, wintry days, we’ve been either cooking, eating, punching the keyboard or wrestling with the dog. My niece’s dog Taz — a German Shepard-Labrador mix — is less than a year old and looks as though she’s big enough to eat my sister.
Because she is a puppy, she still thinks when she jumps up on you that you’d be happy enough to let her leap into your arms. But at 75 pounds and growing, we’re a bit past that point.
Our days together are peppered with intermittent screams of “Taz, don’t eat my shoes!” Or “Taz why do you have to be under all our feet while we’re trying to cook?” Or that desperate, searching, panicked question, “Taz, what is that in your mouth?”
If you haven’t guessed by now, the family gathering at my sister’s house for the holidays is a warm mash of love and chaos. And we like it that way. We’re in celebratory mode. Both my sister’s kids are newly employed in the ‘real world’ while our generation — their mom, pop and me — beam proudly, with a big sigh of relief to the side. My niece’s young man is celebrating his birthday with us, a Solstice Eve natal return. His fourth one in a row here.
We’re a family that’s growing and expanding, and this week we’re experiencing our gathering once more at the solstice fire. A busy eventful year has come to an end.
Witnessing my niece and nephew grow into adulthood, I still hold on to mementos from phases of our family’s history. I have a picture I took with my niece when she was just three years old in a photo booth at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. In my bathroom, I keep a hand-built ceramic vase my nephew made in his middle school art class. It’s been broken in a few places over the years and I have re-assembled it each time, repairing it kintsugi style: using epoxy and gold mica powder to fill the cracks, the repair of the vase making it more beautiful than it was before. Perfect in its imperfection.
Approaching the year’s end, you can’t do anything but think about time. How far we’ve come. What has been. Time, for me especially, continues to be observed and measured in children — actual and creative. These days as a dramaturg I’ve been either writing, editing, or looking at everything from scripts to videos that cover twenty years of my working in the Medea Project.
Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of myself on stage in a video shot twenty years ago. As I looked at that me on the tape, and then looked up at a mirror close by, I had a clear opportunity to see on my face where time did its work. Because I have allowed the creative to be expressed all my life, I was happy to see that time’s work was gentle. I felt appreciation, not regret, for the life and the choices I have made. And for that, I am grateful I never had any kids. Not physical ones. All my creations were my children, and I’ve been pregnant for a long time.
For me, the measurement of time — because I now have a body of work to look back upon — has begun to include the trueness of the art. Do my creations still have relevance or were they satisfactory just for the moment? What does my work say to me now? Does it still even need to say anything? Does it still make sense?
Then I realize I’m not just measuring time in duration but in meaning. I realize there is a pattern forming in my work and in my life that’s moving outward and growing. A seed planted long ago has become the tree, branching upward.
I’m putting away the past, reminding myself to stay in the present. I am a work in progress, a self-exploring, often doubtful, volatile-minded woman who is still trying to open more doors inside, to see what mysteries await there.
How much love is there to have? How many notes are there to sing? Does everything have to be meaningful? Can’t life just be? And then you realize there are still more questions, bigger questions that you need to ask — and to answer for yourself.
Throughout my life I’ve always wondered how I would reconcile my love of and attachment to family with my aspirations outward. But my chart drew it out for me long ago like a map. My 5th house South Node, Jupiter and Uranus in family-loving Cancer was reaching across the wheel to my 10th house Venus in Sagittarius and 11th house North Node in Capricorn.
My familia. We’ve held ourselves together by tradition, love, down-to-earthness, fun and nourishment. Some days I feel like running away from them. Others, I miss them so that I need them like a flower needing rain. I come home now to recharge the batteries as well as to stay in touch. I then go back to the city and to my life, ready to take the reins back and drive. I don’t forget that because my family is such a grounding force, I can fly.
It’s not always going to be like this. The kids will one day have their own kids and we will all be older. But today, reflecting on the past year this Solstice, a little love and chaos on the longest night on our half of the Earth isn’t at all bad, even with a dog with a history of questionable somethings in her mouth. It’s all family. And whether it’s your blood family, adopted family or preferred family, wherever you feel most comfortable being you in all your various facets, flaws and feelings, that is perfect even in its imperfection. It’s what I define as home.
See you in the comments.