Tuesday, 28 January 2014
HOME IS NEVER CLOSED
I have always been a sucker for superhero movies. Childhood daydreams included visions of clinging to Christopher Reeve’s back as he flew me over Manhattan. More recent fantasies have me as the iron lady Robert Downey Jr. serenades after popping off his metallic suit. Why do these superhuman characters strike such a chord with me? (I confess I never did get Batman. So dark and brooding. I mean come on, you’re independently wealthy, easy on the eyes, have a personal assistant and a kick-ass car. Is life really so bad? Maybe if you added a little colour to your wardrobe you’d feel better…)
Perhaps it’s the exciting chill of a fantastic action sequence. Maybe it’s the hopeful wonder of witnessing a nerdy outsider discover their secret power. Or maybe it’s the absolute certainty that at the end of 90 minutes, whether aided by x-ray vision or arachnid senses, the hero will save the day, order will be restored and everyone will return to the safety of their homes knowing that everything will be ok.
Thankfully, my daughters share my love of Marvel men. This December, right after “a life sized doll” my youngest wrote to Santa that what she really wanted for Christmas was superpowers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that section in Toys ‘r us but I was happy to announce to her one evening that we were going to have a girls’ night out to go see the new Spiderman movie.
It was a treat for the girls to be out so late. The weather was mild as we joyfully walked to our neighbourhood cinema. Andrew Garfield did not disappoint. Oh Spidey, what an optimistic icon you are for invisible nerds everywhere. If a touch of bright spandex and a heart full of integrity has you accomplishing such amazing things, anything seems possible.
It was after 10 by the time we started to head home. The girls shuffled along beside me in sleepy contentment. The lights of all the local stores were off and we could see our neighbours through their living room windows, cozying up for the night.
“Look! The pharmacy is closed!” My 10 year old was wide-eyed at this view of the neighborhood she rarely got to see.
I pulled her tight. “Yup, it’s really really late!”
“And the hairdresser is closed!”
“Yup. They’ve all gone home to bed.”
“And even the grocery store is closed!” I laughed and took her hand. We fell into comfortable silence, our feet keeping a soft rhythm on the pavement. The houses rolled by us.
And then, out of the quiet of the night, my three-foot-high, curly-haired sage observed,
“But home is never closed, is it mommy.”
Home. That place where we feel safe and secure. Our bat cave where we lean on the strength of family and friends when faced by our own kryptonite. Not the physical structure where we lay our heads at night, but the friends we can always call up after months of absence to go out for a night of drinks, laughs and commiseration. The family members who make us laugh through our tears. Those people we return to that calm our spirit, ground us and pull us back to centre. The superheroes of our daily lives. The anchors of familiar security that remind us that it’s all going to be ok.
Recently I found myself having a series of hard days. It was one of those weeks where all the uncertainties and pressures of every sphere of your life seem to converge in some galactic test of your inner resilience. It was a test I felt I was failing as the end of the week approached. Weeks earlier I had scheduled to go out with some friends for a drink that day but when 5 o’clock rolled around, I was so spent I wasn’t sure how I would ever manage to drag myself to my car. In the elevator I found myself cornered by a colleague.
“You meeting us there?” Oh crap. I stumbled to think of an excuse and flustered through some rambling explanation about how I wasn’t feeling great and thought maybe I would pass this time. He persisted.
“You have to come. Just one drink. You’ll be glad you did.” I could feel tears of exhaustion start to sting my eyes. I finally mustered up some authentic courage.
“I really...just need to go home.”
When I finally peeled off my coat and boots and walked into my house, I paused at the entry of the living room. My husband and kids were cuddled on the couch in front of the TV. My own team of avengers. The little one looked up and shouted excitedly,
“Mommy, Thor is on!”
I finally exhaled and smiled as I nudged them all over to make room for me. Silently I thought to myself, yup, everything is going to be ok.
I was home.