While I was away

I'm going to start this post with a story about my grandmother.

"But, Mrs. Spit", I can hear you gasp, "You hardly ever talk about your family." Trust me, if you had my family, you wouldn't talk about them either. You've already met my mother. I have a SIL who, well, should be left in a warm sunny corner and watered once a week. I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. (Which I'm not good at, but moving on. . .)

So, part of my maternal families' history is a grandmother who went away for awhile. Seriously. She laid down on the couch one morning in September, fell into a coma for 8 months and woke up on Easter morning. My mother was a junior nurse at the time, and she spent most of her time taking care of her mum, when she wasn't working. It is referred to in my family as "when Nana was away".

She did eventually wake up one day - she sat up and told the student nurses who were bathing her at the time that she needed to visit the necessary. The nurses shrieked and hit the floor saying their rosary. My stern-ish Anglican Nana was not amused with such nonsense. So good had her physio been, that she got up and walked to the washroom. (Apparently discovering the catheter once she arrived).

Mr. Spit's bosses wife is from PEI. She talks about people who are from off island, or who have only lived on island for a mere 25 years as "people from away". She'll talk about how when she goes to visit, she comes back home, from away. And I have always been intrigued by the notion of "away".

Away seemed to speak to me of leaving where your roots were, of leaving what you were comfortable with, the ordinary, and moving to a place that was alien. And staying there for a bit. Maybe even making it home-like. Eventually, to satisfy the definition of away, you must return to the ordinary, to home, so that you can see how far you've come.

In some senses, I have been away for awhile. I'm not quite sure when I should date the away from, though. I sometimes feel like I have been away since I found myself to be pregnant. My body began changing in ways that were foreign to me. Suddenly I was less of a head person, and much more at the mercy of my body. Indeed, my head mattered not a whit to what my body thought. It didn't matter that I was past my first trimester, the nausea didn't go away, and no amount of telling my body otherwise was going to change this. It wasn't that I wasn't pleased as punch to be pregnant, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with pregnancy consuming so much of what I thought of as me.

Equally, I could date the "away" to the time of Gabriel's death. Certainly, if I was only physically present while I was pregnant, I was not mentally present after Gabriel was gone. I remember the days of scattered reflections, hyper focus on a particular thing. I remember being unable to eat, not that I couldn't or wouldn't: but that the entire process of determining I was hungry, then determining what there was to eat, and then determining what I might want to eat, of the available selection, and then to actually prepare the food - this process was beyond me. I was unable to organize myself enough to go through those steps. It was, simply, easier to just not eat. We had family that not only insisted that they eat, but expected Mr. Spit and I to cook. I remember thinking, "don't they know I am not present in this world, I am away?".

And so, I can recognize, using either of those times that I went away, I am not away by those standards any longer. I can see how much more I function. But if I am not away anymore, I am certainly not home. The way I have arrived at this present place was not how I left it, how I got away. I did not take the same boat home as I did when I left. Indeed, I am beginning to wonder if I am at home at all.

It seems, perhaps, that my life long definition of "away" is not quite correct. And when I think, really think, I can imagine that my grandmother would tell me that when she went away, she came back to a place that was not home. It was a place that had been living and moving for 8 months. While she was away, grandchildren were born, children married, life happened.

I am beginning to learn that in the time I am away, it is not the momentous things that have changed, it is the fact that life kept happening. And so, now that I am back from away, I am struggling to catch up. It is as if the world is a merry-go-round and it is spinning and the horses are moving up and down, and they are doing all of this to a song that I have not heard. Everyone else has heard this song for months, they having listened to the radio while I was away, and I am just now catching up. I am left mumbling to those not too busy too listen, "I was away".

Perhaps also, I am seeing things differently now. I was really far away, and now I am here, but still away. Maybe I am only on a different beach on the same island. Maybe I am very close to being home, after being away. I'm not sure. Certainly nothing looks really familiar - and it this unfamiliarness is because I have been from away.

I wonder, maybe I was always wrong. Perhaps there is a home point in our life, and we see it at birth, and we move away from it all our lives. I wonder, if in one sense we were home for only moments at our birth, and we will be "from away" all the rest of our lives. Maybe any time spent looking for "home" while we are alive is truly pointless. Or maybe the reverse is true. Maybe we are born "from away" and we are trying to find our "home" point our entire lives.

What do you think?

Also: Just for Carol, who is the archiving Goddess here at White Guys in Blue Ties, Inc., we are interrupting this blog on Thursday to be a Whinge-For-All Thursday. Save up your grievances, petty and preposterous, and air them all out on Thursday.