I’ve been thinking about Illinois a lot lately-- mostly late at night when I should be sleeping. In those late hours I muse over the possibility of visiting this summer. I worry about the possibility of not. I imagine the nightmare of Andrea on a plane and the three hour car ride from the airport. When I close my eyes I’m transported to the winding freeways of St. Louis transitioning into the uncrowded country highways of Williamson County. I breathe in and my lungs fill with the humid air and the hair on my arms reach for the midnight mists. I can hear the insects, so many insects, clicking and chirping in the moist grass and little yellow fireflies twinkle like fallen stars.
I miss my family. I miss my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and can’t wait to see their faces. I want to play games, catch up, and eat far more than I should because that’s what we do when we get together. I want to throw horseshoes and play softball and eat something off a grill. Grilled food tastes better in Illinois. I want to hear old family tales that I’ve heard a thousand times before, and I want to laugh because they are still funny. I want to take pictures until my finger’s sore so I don’t forget anything.
Then I remember how much I’ve changed in the last four years—how my life has changed and I’m just scared. . . scared that the magic is gone.
I still haven’t put away Christmas. My stockings are still hung by the chimney looking pitiful and my tree is sitting in the corner sucking the sunshine out of the room like a black hole. I plugged in the lights today for the first time since New Years because I knew Andrea would like it. There was no sparkle though. No cheery twinkle. It’s strange that those decorations fill with life for a season.
When the season’s over, the magic just dies. What if I go back, so eager to show my husband the magical place I called home long after I moved away only to be disenchanted and disappointed?
I’m a mess.