The great New Zealand showdown in my mind
I’ve been gone for a while. Made some changes in my style. And they say you can’t go home anymore. —Billy Joel
There’s a Billy Joel song that’s been on my mind, and in my heart, and on my Apple Music lately: “The Great Suburban Showdown” from the 1974 album Streetlight Serenade. This video includes the lyrics in the description.
I’m preparing to go “home” to New Zealand, where my mother has spent the last year putting together her new solo life after the shock of losing my dad to cancer so relatively quickly and unexpectedly.
My mother is from New Zealand and we have extended family there. So there is a strong connection, and I’ve visited many times. I don’t consider New Zealand home. But we have a family home of sorts there, a small bach (vacation cottage) that my parents lived in part-time, and it has a lot of meaning for my sister and I.
And my mother, in her bach, is our last parent standing.
There my mother stayed after my father died, in locked-down New Zealand. It was the best option at the time, all of us caught up in the pandemic and other random totally-out-of-our-control circumstances.
It has been quite the year, to put it mildly.
This trip is hugely important in continuing to pick up the pieces of our family’s loss, work which seems to have barely begun. Most importantly, to be reunited with my mother, who I have not seen in two years. In a sense, it is returning “home.”
But I don’t wanna go home.
The “home” I used to know, the “home” I associated with my parents, no longer exists. Me and my sister and my mother are in the uncomfortable process of creating a new “home,” whether we like it or not.
The part of me that is reluctant to embrace this trip truly doesn’t want to face our family’s new reality. Flying west on that plane will bring me to where I’ll have to face the music bye and bye even though I feel I’ve done plenty of facing all of the things over the last year.
But when I see my mother on her own, it will be as real as it is going to get.
Billy Joel in this song never knew how good he had it. And maybe neither did I.
They say you can’t go home anymore.
I'm only comin' home to say goodbye
Then I'm gone with the wind
And I won't be seen again
’Til that great suburban showdown in the sky
‘Til that great New Zealand showdown in my mind.
Mrs Athlete will be on hiatus for the remainder of September, and will resume publication in October.
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