Today was a day that has been coming for a long time with trepidation
and yet just sneaked up. I guess because if you really try to stay in
the moment, it is hard to also hold the possibility of the future.
Today was the day that my parents moved from Chicago to New York.
They have lived in Chicago for 63 years.
My father was very sad on the way to the airport. I sat in the back-seat
and held his hand. As we drove past the Field Museum of Natural History,
he said, Chicago has been very good to me.
It's where all you kids were born. Where we lived and I had my practice.
It'll be OK, Dad, I said. Of course it does not feel good. But it will
My mother was silent in the front seat. When I got into the car, my
sister whispered to me that my parents had been bickering all morning.
My father insisted on working all day on Tuesday, saying good bye to
his clients. So some last minute good byes with close friends had to
be compressed back to back on Monday.
My sister shot me a look.
I said, they are each coping in their own way. He has just as much right
to say good bye in his way, as she does in hers. Let's try to get through
a home is a little like dying. Especially when you leave and you know
you'll probably never come back.)
I'm just reporting, she
said. She seemed exhausted by the emotional toll of their exchanges
from the past few days. Since the movers had come, they were staying
At the airport, my enterprising sister managed to get a pass to accompany
us to the gate even though she was not flying. At security, the guards
confiscated my father's pocket knife.
How do people walk through the nether land of waiting? We were way early
for the flight, an occurrence that is typical of my mother's anxiety.
I bought food and watched my sister and mother eat sandwiches and make
small talk while my dad read a copy of Oprah I had in my backpack. My
mother and sister love small talk.
Come talk to me, my sister used to say when she was flattened out from
What do you want me to talk about, I would ask?
Anything, she'd say.
But if it had too much content, she would say no, not that. Nothing
So small talk is the hum and sound of words that hang between people,
softening the reality of distance, if only for a little while.
never figured out how to do small talk, but don't you think it is
just a way of connecting with people.)
back to that omelet restaurant a couple of times...with the grandma
who cooks and her grandson. She's left out the hot peppers both times...now
I'm wondering if I just had a lucky day. (Is that small talk?))
I can do it. I am actually
quite adapt. But sometimes, I just can't. Or maybe, just don't want
must be able to do it as a playwright, because you have such a good
ear for language.)
I don't necessarily want
to distract myself from the distance. I want to sit in it and try to
understand and accept it.
understanding and accepting is not sitting in, but sitting on the
outside and observing, isn't it?)
So I watched. (Kim:
The enormity of a literal impending distance hit us all as the boarding
was called. The temporary comfort that small talk had provided collapsed
under the weight of the leave-taking and I was glad I had not gone
through such a futile exercise.
My mother clung to my sister, burying her face in her neck like she
was a life preserver. My tiny mother who is barely five feet tall,
stood on her tips toes to reach my 5 foot seven sister. They wept
and murmured things only meant for each other.
My father looked away and other passersby looked on in curiosity.
Every good bye is its own story. But even in a sea of good byes, this
was no ordinary good bye.
I told one of the secretaries that I would tell someone they couldn't
do something...but that I didn't know how I'd face them in heaven
in 500 years. Well, she was so worried about me 500 years from now
that she decided that the person could do what they wanted to do...so
I wouldn't have to face them.) I was touched.)
Wednesday, May 31, 2006