The texts have steadily been coming in for the last couple weeks. Everyone offering to have me over for Thanksgiving and/or making sure I’ve got some place to go. At some point in October, however, I came to the realization that there was one place I didn’t want to be for Turkey Day.
My hometown of Des Moines.
Sacrilege, I know.
In my 40-ahem years on this planet, I’ve missed going home to Iowa for Thanksgiving once, maybe twice, in my entire life. This year is completely different—because there’s no house to go home to. Ever since Dad passed away, everything has been completely upended and frankly the thought of going back to Des Moines right now is causing me an un-do amount of anxiety.
I’m having PTSD(es Moines).
You know how most people dread Sunday night knowing Monday is looming on the horizon? I would dread Thursday night knowing that Friday meant another pending weekend of making that drive. It gave me peace of mind knowing Dad would be well taken care of for a few days and yet stressed me out to no end knowing he absolutely should not have been living by himself.
I can’t tell you the last time I spent one solid month—let alone two—in Kansas City. It’s easily been over six years. I’ve done that I-80 drive so many times, I could do it in my sleep. (Sometimes I have.) I joke that no matter how fast or how slow I drive; it always takes three hours to get to Des Moines. I could go 110 m.ph. the entire way or collide with a herd of deer, it would still take one hundred eighty minutes from driveway to driveway. The closer I got to the city limits, meanwhile, the more I needed to pop a Xanax.
Now at the end of a hectic week, I go home and—get this—do absolutely nothing. Last weekend I slept until 2 p.m. IN THE AFTERNOON on Saturday. One of my friends assumed I was becoming depressed. “It’s actually the exact opposite. I’m sleeping with nary a care in the world. It’s like R.E.M. on Z.E.N.” I chided.
Keep in mind, Des Moines is a city that will always have my heart. I was born and raised there. I have a support network that actually surpasses my throng of kindred spirits in KC. But right now, I’ve decided The Moines and I need a break. It’s for the best. You can only live at DefCon1 for so long before the novelty of angst, stress and heartbreak wears off.
On Tuesday, I decorated my Christmas tree with a smattering of ornaments from my personal stash and my folks’ vintage collection. Those old-school ornaments were one of a mere handful of items I brought home with me. Hanging them up caused a flood of tears. Some of those ornaments are older than me. And I’ve never seen them outside of Mom and Dad’s house. Whoever wrote you can’t go home again knew what they were talking about. I literally can’t go home. And I can’t go figuratively either. Well, not yet anyway.
Will I be going to Des Moines for the holidays? All signs point toward affirmative. By then Des Moines will be a pleasant social call. I’ll be able to see friends and family and keep myself occupied with dinners out and brunches in. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to it. But right now Central Iowa and I are on a prolonged hiatus and—lemme tell you—these boundaries are doing my headspace a world of wonder.