This is my fifth season as a holiday orphan. Every year I tell myself that the expense, work hurdles and hassle of holiday travel isn't worth it, and every year the holidays roll around and I miss my family something fierce. I would even like to go with my sister on her Black Friday shopping frenzy, pushing against the roiling masses of humanity and frantic consumerism just for a glittering piece of something I don't need and never wanted. My own personal Hell would probably look something like Black Friday, but that is how much I miss my sister and the rest of my family.
I think about them when I ride, plying the damp streets and chilled air for comfort amid the homesickness. I think about coconut cream pie and ribbon Jello and table cloths that look like flannel sheets. I think about my Grandma lovingly demanding that all 47 of us recite what we're thankful for and I think about my Grandpa smiling as we chatter on about great friends and that super cool concert we went to the week before. I think about the Cowboys on TV and bowling with my cousins and even scoring more than 100 for the first time in my life. I think about Slurpees at 7-11 and sunlight on brown yards and launching sweet air beneath four tires off the train tracks. I find myself lost in memories when I ride around Thanksgiving, every year.
And I think about ways I can get home for Christmas, but I know it's already too late.