I am on a plane flying up the east coast of Britain. Soon, we will make a left turn over Scotland into the Atlantic (more precisely, I hope, over the Atlantic) to New Jersey. By way of the frozen north, will make my transfer home to Cleveland.
When I told people I was going to surprise my father for his 80th birthday, many of them translated my destination back to me as “home”; but I have not lived in the house that my father owns, and my homing instinct is held by my husband, and my children, and my cats.
And that is part of it, part of why, faced with last week’s east coast storms, and the disruption and dislocation of travel that they occasioned, I would not give up my journey to Wales, nor trade it for another, less significant moment in time. I told my father that it was because of my stubborn streak that I held on the phone and returned to the airport, more than once, that I would not give in, go home. The trip was a surprise; he need never know if I didn’t make it; he need not be disappointed.
Disappointed: there’s a word that sets the spirals of parents and children in aspic, in resin, preserved for future scientists to examine under the microscope of therapy and inappropriate curiosity.
We do not communicate as well as we might. It is not the fault of either, as such, but of distance and time zones and work and want; we are both found wanting. There has never been a break between us, but a gentle cracking, crackling in the reception of our messages, the thoughts of our hearts, so that somehow they are never clearly broadcast, or received.
And so the ridiculous gesture, made larger than life by the onslaught of storms, the slings and arrows of outrageous weather; the action that speaks more loudly than the words in a birthday card; the pathetic offering of myself on a damp doorstep, rendered almost heroic by the trials to make it happen, by my stubbornness.
It is only love that is so stubborn, in the end. Ambition, duty, fear will fade in the face of a more persistent power, whether it is the weather, or the intransigence of an airline agent; it is the kernel of restless love, lodged under a heart, that will out; that will not give up and go home; that will not be disappointed.