Tuesday, October 5, 2010

down home

A week ago I was in Newfoundland visiting family. I spent two weeks in the place I have always referred to as "down home", the place my father was born and where I spent my childhood summers. 
Some of those summers my parents, my brother and I either drove or flew down together and spent weeks catching up with family. Other years, many years, I flew down by myself and threw myself on the mercy and boundless hospitality of my relatives. 

I'm not sure why they kept agreeing to put up with me. 

I was not an easy child.

I'm sure my parents appreciated the break.
My vacations were spent here, in Job's Cove, in the village that my father grew up in and where my aunts and uncles still live. My aunt Theresa continues to live in my grandparents' house.

Job's Cove is, for me, the real Newfoundand. It is a tiny outpost made up of close knit families with a common identity.
That identity is fishing. Job's Cove is a fishing village.
If you know anything about Newfoundland, or about the fishing industry, you know where I'm going with this. I don't want to harp on it except to say that there is a moment of sadness when I enter Job's Cove now. 

The energy, the lifeblood that flowed through the community when I was young is missing. Replacing it is a sense of futility, a kind of lack of purpose. It's pervasive and it's a difficult thing to find yourself in the midst of. 

When I was young this place was filled with boats and gear and men full of strength and purpose.
More than one person was amazed that I would even walk down there now. It seems not many do.

I had a number of reasons for visiting Newfoundland at this particular time. 

It had been two years since my last trip and for me that's about the point where I start to get antsy. I start really craving the smell of the salt water and the comforts of down home. I also figured that if I better get on a plane now...while I can still fit. 

The deciding factor was really the fact that I had just spent a summer mostly alone while Dad had his own east coast vacation and SeaBass worked his butt off in the big city. 

It wasn't the alone time that I found difficult. I like quiet. I actually found it hard to adjust when Dad returned home. 

Mostly I needed a break from the three insane canines that I was left in sole custody of for the majority of the summer. 

Three giant dogs plus one quickly advancing pregnancy equals one stressful summer.

I needed to be dog free for just a minute.

I was also really feeling a pull towards the strong sense of family I feel in Newfoundland. The amazing women there who love me. I live in a home with two men who are of course thrilled with the whole baby thing but I was really feeling like I needed the support of women. That was not something I'd ever really experienced before. The strength of the pull towards it was really an amazing thing.

My cousins threw me a surprise baby shower on the second night I was there. My response to the surprise was to walk directly past the baby shower banner and array of shower decorations without noticing a godddam thing and then to glance at the pile of presents in the corner and think to myself that it was a bit odd that my cousin Lisa, whose baby is now 3 months old, had not yet opened all of her baby gifts and also, why were said gifts now piled in a corner of her sister Cathy's living room?

The reality of the whole pregnancy thing had obviously not yet settled on me. 

Also, I am nothing if not observant.

They had to explain to me what was going on. Then I went into shock and spent the next couple of hours totally overwhelmed by the gesture.

I have to say though, flying home accompanied an added hockey equipment sized bag full of gifted baby paraphernalia did a lot to help me accept the reality of the soon to be arriving baby.

I had big plans for my trip. I was going to do a lot of cooking and explore what was going on in with food down there. I was going to get out on my own and have some adventures. 

I did none of that.

I spent all my time with family. I relaxed. I made no plans. I let go of everything. It was perfect.

 I took pictures.
I had time to see Job's Cove with an eye that I don't always stop to allow myself to view it through.

There were times when I was younger and I was brooding and I was suffering through the usual adolescent upheavals as well as my own special brand of crazy that I felt suffocated when I was down home.

I admit that it was sometimes overwhelming to be so closely surrounded by so much family. It was sometimes a relief to come back here again.

I thought a lot about that this time.

Everything I've been through in the last year and everything I'm going through now has changed me so much. I couldn't get enough of family on this visit.

It was very difficult to leave to come home.