the international house of ivanans.
growing up in toronto with a latvian-turned-brit-turned-canuck and a dane-turned-brit-turned-canuck was like living with a multinational militia during any holiday season. "mummy, why are there danish flags on the christmas tree?". "why are the jesuses covered in purple?". "daddy, the catholic incense smells funny!"
but, the pot melting traditions old, new and irreverent always stirred smoother when marinated with the golden goo.
[just add father.]
fermented fluid flowed free in the fatherland, until prohibition pulverized said pater into the final sands through the hourglass, leaving wee 3 capsized, washed up on the dry, river beds. panting.
yes, thanksgiving in particular was a bit of a mindfuck, a.d.
we three kings of disorientation, clung to this exercise in turkey, more like throwing down a buffet with the secretary-general at the u.n., a marshaled meal, and less like any culinary ritual recognizing love and peace between nations, fictional or otherwise.
but, these were the first evenings i savored those underage sippos. my own wine glass, singing under the roll of my anticipatory finger. my teen heart thump. thump. thumping with delight at the halo humming above the good crystal. innocent, blonde gulps. crisp, dry streams, tearing the walls of my plump, pink throat. building the yearn.
for burn. for pain. for dark.
so venturing south of the 49th parallel into the hippie-dippie state, traditions didn't get any clearer. the land of wheatgrass, tofurky and buddhas like flamingos on every lawn. we were a different family of 3. hubby, beagle and hen. so we made our own rules, until they became like the plot of "inception", and hands tossed, i curled into sleep and saw everything blow up in our faces.
today, i went back into rehab.
with my husband, invited as an alumnus to a thanksgiving feast of food, fellowship and football.
it was not the thanksgiving streaming from your big screen.
not conquering caucasians bending, smiling; carcass, glistening with congestive heart failure. not chubby-cheeked children, gleefully tumbling on a dyson-steamed shag with shrieking, white smiles. nor consenting models prettily posing with goblettumblerstein, frosting with sexual tension.
dripping with your destiny.
[caution: thin ice.]
it was better.
the dude walking his black, pot-bellied pig along hollywood blvd. yes, people walk in l.a.! and with swine!
the homeless man sitting at the bus stop bench. a plate of charity resting on his lap. a drumstick, stuffing and cranberries red.
and the tears in s.'s eyes, shining with our past. last thanksgiving. 39 days.
[two. dead. birds.]
she squeals with ecstatic bursts as we wrangle her leash. wagging her freak flag, our aging hound waddles down our escalator drive, snorting and sniffing every pebble, every leaf. she is joy. but, she is old. with a mouth full of rot soon to be pulled.
i miss it.
i miss the ruby, rich syrup coating my tensions, winging my soul. the dazzling ego unleashed with every guzzled glass. i am the greatest actress! a wondrous wife! the bestest friend! i am smarterslickersexier than you. and you. and you.]
maggie slows at the end of wayside drive with an inaudible putt, putt, putt. her last puff of steam vanishes silently like the sunset dip and she stalls. she gazes up at me with a canine's compliance. gentle eyes. low wag. and the softest sigh.
[i miss hiding my bottles, tearing up evidentiary receipts and hours of ice packs, excedrin and gulleting puke. i miss my independence! my arrogant autonomy! LIFE. you. are. my. bitch!!!]
every morning i wake up and say two things.
"i am powerless. i am not on dialysis."
and then i swing my legs over the bed and put one foot in front of the other.
self-sufficiency snuffs the flame of gratitude.
i bend over and raise my furry sausage to my chest. with a singular sigh she melts into my arms and we walk. still collared, her leash scrapes behind us, ripping rhythmic along the asphalt. we pass our neighbors' tribute to neon, a flickering facade to rival the griswalds'. our deliberate stroll ignites the guards of hades; wild, frothy yapping; flinging their rabied selves against the bars.
but, we walk in silence.
step, by step. beat, by beat.
i carry her home and lay her upon a field, silver with post-apocalyptic ash; where green pokes friendly, and blooms burgeon bright.
she lay with me, when i could only lie.
now i walk for her, when she can no longer try.
i can walk again. i can live again. i can love again.
this is the thanksgiving of my dreams.
and there's not a turkey in sight.
just a hen.
no longer flickering, but blazing bright.