Page Van Winkle

Last week, my parents made the trip out here from Maine to see me for the first time in a year and a half. This was the first time they’d get to see where I was staying out here in Ohio, our house, our lovely town. And it was the first time they’d meet Skyspook.

As one would expect, their visit was a big deal to me and much anticipated. As much as I love my life out here, I’ve had no contact with anyone from Maine for quite some time. I know I’ve changed a lot since I started living out here, but with so many variables, the changed surroundings, new cast of characters, etc, it’s hard to judge with any sort of certainty, lacking a constant by which to measure my progress. It’s an experiment without a control.

Being that their visit meant a lot to me, I naturally ran a myriad of scenarios through my head before they arrived. As they’re perfectionists and we haven’t always had the best relationship, I scrutinized my environment for flaws, steeled myself for their critical reactions as they tore apart my choices, my life. I wanted to be prepared, after all.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

I saw my mother’s Jeep pull up on the side of our street and walked out to meet my parents, but instead I found they had been replaced by a pair of doting grandparents, dawdling, practically ancient. My dad’s mind was still sharp as ever, but his body was clearly worse for wear, and he physically appeared much older than 62, at least in his 70s. My mom, on the other hand, looked a good deal younger than her actual age (57), perhaps early to mid 40s, but she was utterly befuddled, verging on senility. She’s never been the picture of mental health, but something organically has started to happen to her short-term memory, complicating matters further.

I felt like Rip Van Winkle. I wondered. Did time pass so differently in Maine than in Ohio? Somehow my year away had turned into a decade, judging by the change in my parents. While the majority of my friends are quite a bit younger than my parents, I do have a few that are of comparable age, and some even a bit older, that to me seem infinitely younger, more vibrant and vital than the folks who visited me.

It was a colorful visit, to say the least. It seems that my father, in stereotypical old man fashion, has become completely unaware of (or perhaps indifferent to) his own body odor, and I was treated to its aggressive affront on multiple occasions. At the Rock Hall of Fame, my mother decided that the musical note next to the subtitles on the movies they showed meant that the audience was intended to sing along and proceeded to belt out rock tunes off key. I have no idea what the others in the small theatre thought, but I can guess.

They were appreciative and impressed by everything I showed them, the unpretentious gastropub with exquisite food, the place on Lake Erie where Skyspook had proposed to me, the waterfront mansions not far from our neighborhood.

I was shocked when my father loved Skyspook as typically my father likes no one and certainly not anyone I’ve dated. Stranger yet, my father seemed to respect Skyspook. My mom’s take: “He is fun and cuts his grass. You two are perfectly suited.”

And like that, I’ve gone in their eyes from family fuck-up to their independent daughter who moved to the Midwest and is living a charmed life.

For the first time in ages, my parents and I agree on something.

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