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10:16 a.m. - 2010-07-03
It's never Ago enough for me.

Wolf is outside filling the wheelbarrow with sticks. The remains of the arborvitae hedgerow is still a mess of trimmings, stray branches, and chunks of usable wood. My boy screwed up Big Time earlier this week, major violations of trust and privacy then added bold faced lying to the crimes. Then continued to lie to the point of absurdity ie: he knew we knew that he knew we knew he was lying and totally busted for the misdeeds yet perversely kept on with his lies anyhow. GAH! It's easy enough to remove electronics, to send a kid to his room, to decree an early bedtime. Too easy. And since those punitive methods had barely made a dent in my child's wayward behavior on previous occasions I knew I had to get nasty. Wolf needed to truly understand the gravity of the situation, and needed a whopping dose of "Time to grow up, Sonny Jim" backbreaking work. Enter the wheelbarrow and the hedgerow.

I'll be the first to admit I've been lax with the boy. Not about the importance of kindness, school work, tooth brushing and such, but he's hardly been overworked. It's beyond time he learned how to work. The sheer drudgery of washing a floor or raking the yard also teaches abstract concepts like time management, efficiency, and perseverance. And in this I've let my kid down, finding it easier to do things myself than teaching him how to do stuff and then dealing with the mind-numbing tedium of keeping him on task until it's done properly.

This ends now. That these life lessons can be combined with a sharp, hopefully lasting and possibly painful lesson about the consequences of sneaking and lying is just a happy bonus.

I've been through my old hometown a few times recently, something rather rare I hardly ever have business in that end of the county anymore, and I was struck by a few things. (Mentally, not physically. I wasn't pelted with rocks or anything.)

I thought about my sisters. One lives out west in one of those snowbound cheese states and the other two live in Hometown. Despite them living a scant half hour from here I never, ever see them. A mutual choice instigated by me, happily accepted by them. I thought about why I was so loath to see them and decided it was because I didn't like to be who they insist I be. Sure with family it's inevitable that everyone take up their old roles to some extent when you get together, but Drusilla and Anastasia refuse to see me as anything except the least favored child/bitterly resented rebel/family weirdo. All these years later and all they do is try to cram me back into a box that didn't even fit back then but had been foisted upon me by our horrible mother and abetted by their own relief and delight in not being The Hated Child.

I refuse to be LeeLee the Weirdo for anyone. I hated it then and sure as hell won't accept that label now. Yet on the few times I've seen them over the past 30 years (by accident, but I tried to be gracious) those two dug their feet in and DEMANDED I not change things. Hey, I was willing to meet again as adults. To know them as grown women who'd certainly moved up and away from our shared miserable teenage years. Women who'd made lives for themselves, who'd learned stuff and had adventures and made choices. But those two? Feh. They'd happily unpacked all the old shivs and insults, the smirks and the complaints. They set the WayBack Machine to 1979 and turned indifferent, even angry faces at me when I tried to remind them it was the 80's, 90's, the goddamn 21st century, and didn't they think it'd be nice if we talked about NOW? No, they didn't. Wouldn't. So screw 'em.

Look, I understand about seeing things with the eyes of yesterday. When I drive through Hometown I see where things used to be. I see the businesses long shuttered and gone. Of course I do. But I also accept that the bowling alley burned down and don't go barging into the bank that's on that lot now demanding to bowl a few games. I don't go into the Chinese place that lives in the old pizzeria I worked in and insist they give me a couple of slices of Sicilian from the middle, no corner pieces, please. Not bloody likely I'd score a bottle of Nyquil in the pharmacy that's now a fabric store. The bowling alley, Angel Pie, and Doyle's Drugs are gone. So is LeeLee the Weirdo. If she ever existed at all.

Another thing I thought about was how you couldn't get me to live in Hometown again even if you paid me. Not because of the ghosts of the past, except for my crappy night world my ghosts rest easy these days. Nope. I wouldn't live in Hometown because it's horrible. Overbuilt, crowded, both wealthier and seedier than should be allowed. Prime destination of the exodus of the fleeing city people, they brought the city with them. My hometown is now The Bronx…with lawns.

Yeah, yeah, play me 'Big Yellow Taxi' while I weep a little into my milkshake at the malt shop, but seriously the Hometown of Today sucks. Even back in the day Hometown was a bit edgier, more Uptown than Cow Town, at least compared to the rest of the sleepy countrified bucolic county with its dairies, corn patches, and black dirt onion fields. But now? Traffic, grime, crime, glitz and grit. It's ugly, loud and mean. Heh, sort of like the two sisters who still live there.

You can't go home again? Feh, who'd want to?

Not me. ~LA

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