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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Familiar Rooms

I knew it would be good to be home. This place is really Julie’s home not mine, but I’ve been coming here since the Christmas Break of 1978, and her folks did such a good job of making me feel at home the first time I visited that it has always been a second home to me. I knew it would feel good to step through the door and see Julie’s folks waiting there as they always do whenever any of their children are on the road toward home.

This year our trip from west Michigan to Waverly, Kansas, seemed extra long. We left our driveway at 4:30 AM and pulled in here thirteen hours later. We can usually make the 700 mile trek in eleven hours if the roads are clear—and they were clear and dry the whole way—but we had to pick up Kim at her campus apartment in Chicago. That was her last night there. After Christmas, she is moving in with three good friends who had a little room to spare. Literally, it is a little room no bigger than a bed, but it will work for a few months.

Kim finished all of her classes last week, and began her new job at World Relief, teaching English to adult refugees. After picking up Kim, we headed north just past Lincoln Park area to pick up Nate, her fiancé, at his apartment, a third floor walk-up on a quaint street of tall row houses so close you could pass salt and pepper from window to window. It will be a nice place for him and two other rent-paying friends between now and the June wedding.

So the detour up to Chicago added a couple hours to our trip, but we still made great time with four drivers.

Typically when we come here, it is closer to Christmas Day and all of Julie’s siblings and their children here. It’s sort of like the film Dan in Real Life. Every one of the seven bedrooms is taken, along with two sleeper-sofas. There are four-and-a-half bathrooms in this large rambling split-foyer ranch house; two kitchens; four “living rooms” (places where five or more can sit and visit or watch TV).

The first time I came here to visit Julie, it was a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms. About ten years later, we helped Julie’s dad convert the three-car garage into an apartment for Grandpa Sutton. Then about ten years after that, they converted the walk-out basement into a “Guesthaus,” for assisted living seniors, a business they ran for about twenty years. That explains all the bedrooms and bathrooms we now use whenever the whole family gets together.

But for now, it’s just my family and Julie's folks, and to be honest, it's been great. We needed a few days of “down time” before all the delightful hubbub begins. Every now and then I hear Natalie practicing Christmas music down in the great-room. The old piano is just enough out of tune to sound homey as the music meanders up and down the stairways to familiar rooms.

This morning I woke up Kimberly in the same bedroom that was "mine" whenever I visited here. We were talking a while and then I said out of the blue, “Just think. This is the very room I slept in the night after I proposed to your mother at 1:00 AM January 1, 1980.”
My kids wonder how and why I constantly connect family history to physical space and otherwise insignificant landmarks, but it happens whenever we visit someplace from our shared past. It has something to do with the way my mind files memories. Maybe all minds work this way, but my filing system is extremely “associative.”  I have no doubt that it affects the way I think, speak, and write. So for you friends who have been reading here through the years, thank you for your patience.

Tonight all the others arrive. Tomorrow we may get snow!
Hoping you and yours have  a wonderful Christmas!


Blogger Stephen said...

Tom, your associative mind is what provides your writing with such heart and life. When I read your writing it makes me feel like I've just put on a well "broken in" old sweatshirt and sat down in my favorite chair with a hot cup of joe! There is a comfort and a familiarity in it all! Keep up the great work!

13/1/11 10:13 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You know these familiar rooms. It was so good to visit with you and Laura. It's kind of a blur right now--not a typical Christmas for us. Lots going on in life, but that is when familiar rooms mean the most. Thanks for the kind and encouraging comment. I haven't been writng here for several weeks and it will be another week before I can.

13/1/11 10:31 PM  

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