I realize it is late, but if I blog now it still counts right? Today was an extremely strange day, but I am now home and mostly happy and sane. This whole adventure started last night when we heard on the news that my home town was on the brink of being without water. The irony in that statement is that the town is named Nowata… and this is essentially a running punchline that I have had to hear my entire damned life. Tuesday morning an explosion rocked the Airosol chemical plant in Neodesha Kansas, roughly sixty miles from my home town. In the process of fighting the fire all sorts of strange chemicals ran off into the Verdigris river… that feeds the water supplies of a bunch of towns as it travels its way down and eventually joins up with the Arkansas river. Namely this meant that the town I grew up in had to shut off water at midnight last night to keep from getting any contaminants into the system. It was estimated by noon today that the taps would run dry as they only had about ten hours worth of water available in the tower. When I first heard that I thought… well I guess there goes the plans for Thanksgiving, because surely no one was going to attempt to hold a big meal without access to a bathroom. I would be wrong.
When I finally got a hold of my mom this morning she acted completely unfazed by the news, like it was silly for me to think that dinner might be off. She just said that she was telling people to make sure they used the bathroom before coming. She also said that we could always just go out behind a building… remember I come from fairly humble roots. My wife backed out because she needed to assist a friend of ours from trying to move out of her apartment, and in part because I don’t think she liked the concept of attempting Thanksgiving without running water. Thankfully as it turns out they had prepped pretty much all of the food minus the bird well ahead of time, so it was just a matter of cooking a small turkey this morning. All in all it went as pleasant as it could be given that it meant hanging out with my blatantly racist uncle and my sometimes extremely paranoid aunt. My conspiracy theorist uncle did not make it, so there is at least that. I love my parents dearly though and I appreciate the effort that my mom put into trying to make a proper Thanksgiving happen.
It has been rough the last few years because over time we have lost what I call our “anchor households” being those locations and individuals that glued the holidays together. One by one I lost my grandparents, and with the death of my wife’s step father… and her father and step mom turning snowbirds and RVing full time… we really don’t have much of an infrastructure for proper holiday observation. We are not the hosting type, because honestly we are the ones that start a timer from the moment we eat… because it starts ticking down until we have reached our fill of other human beings. It is hard being an introvert in a very extrovert-centric family. There were a whole slew of volatile topics discussed, but I essentially knew it was going to happen before hand so I had prepared myself for it. All things considered though, it wasn’t a bad afternoon and I wound up staying around four hours which is probably a new record for me. That was honestly the point where I decided… I should probably head towards someplace with indoor plumbing that worked.
The highlight of the day however was seeing the army of orange fuzzballs following my dad around when I went home to see the handiwork on his new porch. Also of note I saw two wild turkeys that have apparently been hanging around my folks house. The cats though were adorable as can be, and one decided it liked me… and hung out beside me on the porch. It of course screamed its little head off because my dad has gotten in the habit of feeding them wet catfood… and they apparently thought it was well past feeding time. I love my family, but I never really felt that connected to them. What I mean is to say that I never really fit in or seemed to think in the same way as they did. Going home and visiting them is draining, because I feel like I have to put on my “Mark” suit, meaning I shift into the person that they expect me to be without really meaning to. Being in my hometown always feels suffocating, because I have so much history there… and there are still a large number of people who remember me as something that I probably never was. All of this makes me appreciate the life I have built for myself, my amazing wife, my furkids… and the family that I chose. There are so many of you out there that may or may not actually read this… that I am thankful for having in my life. While there are so many of you that I will probably never actually meet in the flesh… it doesn’t make each and every one of you any less my family. I have a habit of adopting people… and I am thankful for each of you that I have in my life.