The first Thanksgiving I remember that was held other than my father’s house was when my mother remarried back in 1980. Her new husband was having a family get together at his house, and I staggered in late, hung over from moonshine, having spent the night with a young woman from Possum Holler Virginia, and having zero sleep. It did not occur to me then I might have freaked some people out. I was long haired and strung out, amped on speed and fogged by pot, so most people there wondered who the hell I was and what the hell I was doing there to begin with. The woman from Possum Holler was right where I left her, the moonshine was with her, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her at all.
We have Thanksgiving at my oldest sister’s house these days. Neutral ground, as it were, between the divorced parents of long ago, and the place where it’s sort of in the middle for everyone to meet. This is my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian and it’s going to be weird. I’ve discovered I do not eat nearly as much, or as often now. I cannot think this meal will be different.
The drive isn’t long but it feels that way. I leave early this year because last year the traffic got weird about ten, and I was still on the road. I lock down into 55mph, and cruise down the road with Tori Amos. Tallokas Road, the place I found Lucas in the road fifteen months ago, is incredible this time of year. The houses there are simple yet they hold an elegance that comes from hard working people making their homes beautiful. This is the very soul of South Georgia, the people who farm, and who still know how to coax from the earth the very food we need for survival.
Moultrie comes and goes, Doeun passes by, and finally Albany, a city I have never liked is there. My sister and her family live in Lee County, but they might as well be in Albany proper. Albany is too crowded, too dirty, and too run down for me to really ever like the place, but so are most places where there are more than a thousand people or so. I’m the first to arrive, and I’m early. I get to finally meet the dogs, however.
Last spring my sister and a co-worker discovered two puppies that had been abandoned and my sister took them in. Remarkably, they were Lab/Weimaraner mix. Luke is part Weimaraner, but he’s a little larger than Marcus and Greyson. Grey rewards my pettings by jumping up and marking my shirt with two perfect paw prints. Most people might get upset at this, and I certainly won’t allow Luke to jump up on people, but I’m a Mutt Person, and Grey senses this. Weimaraners are very sociable people and they love to be handled. Both they and the old Lab that was rescued years ago like me.
I wonder why my other sister and mother haven’t arrived. My father is with my younger sister, so he isn’t arrived yet either. It’s good to see my niece, who is going to Mercer (have I ever mentioned that?) who is maturing quickly. This one is getting her feet under her quickly. This is very likely the last time I will ever see her in the role she has always played all her life. After this year I suspect she will become more and more her own person, and we’ll start treating her more like an adult than an older kid.
I start to wonder. Everyone is late, not just late, but late at the same time. This means family drama, and I don’t do family drama. I make a mental checklist of things everyone has mentioned, and then go through another list of things no one has mentioned. Nothing stands out but I know something is up. True to form, both my mother and father-in-law show up, and my sister and father show up about the same time. Something is up, but it doesn’t involve my father, because I can tell when he’s ornery. We’ll revisit this later, I’m sure, as soon as someone tells me what happened, and why.
We’re getting older. My brother-in-law, father-in-law, my father, and myself got into a conversation while watching a dog show on television.
B.I.L (seeing a dog like Lucas)—“Mike that’s a Weimaraner, right?”
F.I.L (the camera angle has changed to show a Rottweiler) You don’t have a dog like that do you?
Father ( looking up from his magazine) You’ve got a Rottweiler?
BIL “No that was a Weimarraner.”
FIL “Mike has a Rottweiler?
Father “I thought you had a Weimaraner?”
Meanwhile, I don’t think anyone but my brother-in-law and myself could actually hear what was being said, and it struck me I might have been missing part of the conversation myself.
Oddly, and this was unplanned as far as I could tell, we had two tables set up for lunch, with the prospective members divided by gender. My nephew, who is as self absorbed as any fourteen year old ever born, wanted to sit with his mother and sister, because he can’t stoop to socialize with anyone who want wait on him. My sister made him sit with us men folk but I could tell he wasn’t happy at all with it. He ignores everyone around him, and everyone is more or less given up on ever reaching him. It’s a Hermitude without thought or purpose, and I suspect things will get weird for him later in life.
The lunch is good, but I miss turkey. I miss eating as much as I can, and somehow, I can’t eat that much anymore. I wonder if it’s vegetarianism, or if there has been some fundamental shift in the way I eat that caused all this. After lunch everyone leaves fairly quickly, more signs that something is amiss, that I have missed out on.
When I was my nephew’s age, I was more or less lost in a sea of kaleidoscope events seemingly unrelated to reality as I saw it. I have no idea how to talk to someone that age, I suspect, and I wonder when I became so willing to just stop trying. Today I sent him a fifty dollar gift certificate for skateboard things. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t.