The ducks call me on the phone and say they want me home. You haven’t been home for Christmas in 5 years they say, it’s time to come back.
As if it were so easy, as if all it took was a plane ride.
Because the ugly duckling tale is incomplete, sure the swan found other swans and left with them, but you know what? That swan still walked like a duck, talked like a duck, still fell in love with other ducks and most of all still loved the ducks that raised him. They made him feel like a little alien, but they also taught him to ride a bike and to pee in to potty, and to heal his wounds, even if it was the duck way and useless for him, they did their best.
Leaving the ducks broke the swan’s heart, and he had to un-learn and re-learn life all over again.
The ducks of course are unaware of most but still love the swan and call him every year, they say wear a hat if it’s snowing, they say come home for the holidays.
But going back home when you were not happy there is a journey back in 4 dimensions that exhausts you in every way. A journey into distance, time, memories and pain.
The kind of bittersweet delicious pain that only exist in that place where you grew up. Where the things that went wrong and that destroyed you are buried, but also the good things and walking through the streets of your city is like running your hands over your body and you are not sure if you hate that or love that. People ask you to get somewhere and you get to that place the same way you do numbers and letters, without thinking, by the memory of your heart.
And you can’t completely hate a place where you once beat all the little bastards in kinder garden and won the class trophy, even if the kinder garden is now a restaurant, even if you remember none of those kids names.
You think you’ve come so far but your family don’t care, they will always look at you and see the 15 year old plucked duck they have glued to their fridges, and they talk to that duck, and the little duck inside of you wakes up and answers. The untamed wanker.
But this year I did it anyway, this year I went back
They all came to visit, all at the same time, and they yelled, and they wanted to know all, mostly all that went wrong, they love that, they see my happiness outside as a direct threat to their happiness inside, so i help out, I give them shiny souvenirs and bad news.
And they all start telling their duck tales around me, their tales about new furniture, new boob jobs, new diets, wedding pictures, their cute dogs wearing costumes, new babies, new diseases, their plants, they talk about each of their plants, the roses, the forget-me-nots, their sunflowers, they love their plants the ducks.
And they are all so happy, and they really truly are glad to see me and their laughter is so loud it gets the air thick and pregnant and every corner of the house feels full.
I’m right in the middle of their lives and their bodies, I feel their duck hearts beating at the same rhythm, and their laughter wraps itself around me like a coat, and i feel all those bodies sharing my smell and my blood warm up mine.
And still, still i get a terrible urge to cry, because I’ve never felt more far away from them.