Artie came home for the holidays. Finally. Artie goes to school in Georgia, so getting back home to New Mexico isn’t an easy thing to do. When Artie does come home, it’s by plane. And Georgia never has any direct flights to New Mexico, so he has to take three flights to get home. That means three pat downs at the airport. Three different planes to wait for. Three different neighbors on the plane. All equally annoying. Three different hostess asking him if he wants a drink. Three different times he says no. Three different times he has to wait for his luggage. All in the span of one day.
But it’s all worth it because Artie is going home. Finally.
At the airport in New Mexico, Artie’s father and brother were waiting for him holding a sign that read, “Finally! Welcome Home Artie!” The three exchanged hugs and words before finally heading back home. Artie sat in the back seat. He closed his eyes and let the bumps in the New Mexico roads rock him to sleep.
When Artie awoke, he was outside his house. His mother and grandma were outside on the driveway, barely able to contain their excitement. It was a weird sight for Artie. His grandpa passed in the summer while he was in Georgia. He wished his grandpa was there waiting too, but things change. And Artie understood that. Regardless, Artie and his family finally had their big reunion. They led him through the front door and into the kitchen where his mother had prepared food for the family.
Before sitting down to eat, Artie needed to use the restroom and he went to the bathroom he used many times when he was growing up. It was down the hall. The last room on the left. The one across his old room.
So Artie went down the hall and met the last room on the left. He noticed there was a new door in the frame. It wasn’t the white one with scratches on the lower third that the dog carved. Instead it was a new brown door. One that had the wood patterns swirling around. The doorknob was even new. It was brass and heavier than the old one. This one took more effort to turn.
Regardless, Artie did his business and exited the bathroom. He decided to go into his old room. To take a look around before dinner. He opened his door. Still the white door it was. Upon entering his room, he noticed that his sheets have changed. The blue ones with anchors on them weren’t there anymore. Instead, solid gray sheets covered his twin sized bed. His headrest even changed. No longer was the one that had his initials engraved on the left leg. Instead, a stained wood headrest stood. One with no one’s name on it.
Artie shook his head and went back to his family who were eagerly waiting for him to come back to the table. Once Artie came back into the kitchen, his mother asked for him to get her a fork. So, Artie went to the first drawer next to the stove to retrieve it.
“No, honey. They’re not there anymore. I moved the silverware to the drawer next to the spices on your left,” his mother said.
And sure enough, when Artie opened the drawer next to the stove, there were no forks anymore. Instead it was now a drawer of whisks. All eight whisks his mother owned.
“The drawer next to the spices, honey,” his mother repeated.
Artie opened the drawer next to the spices and grabbed a fork for his mother. He sat down with his family and had a nice dinner. Full of laughs, stories, and nostalgia. Artie’s father had a loud laugh. A true sailor’s laugh. His laugh shook his belly and his belly shook the table, which shook all plates and spoons and forks.
“There you go again, dad,” Artie said, “Mrs. Tillerson is going to complain again.”
“Oh don’t worry about her. She moved out two months ago to live with her new husband. Can you believe that?” his father replied.
“But she lived there all my life,” said Artie.
“Yeah, but guess she wanted a change in scenery, that old rat.”
“Oh she wasn’t that bad,” Artie’s mother said.
“I say she was. Remember that time she dragged you to our front door by the ear? For playing with her dog? She says, she says, ‘Mr. Anderson, please control your boy. He is stressing Bubby out,'” Artie’s father said.
“Yeah. I remember, dad,” Artie replied.
“And I say to her, ‘who the fuck is Bubby?'” Artie’s father continued. His laugh shook his belly and his belly shook the table and so on.
Artie and his family talked at the table for another hour or two. They talked up until bedtime.
“Artie, I’ll set up the air mattress for you in the living room. Your grandma sleeps in your room. You brought your own sheets like I told you, right?” Artie’s mother said to him.
“Yeah I did,” he replied.
And Artie slept on the air mattress for the next week or so. He didn’t complain much about it. He wanted to sleep in his old bed, but the one in his room isn’t it anymore.
Regardless, Artie enjoyed his time with his family. He learned new things about the house that happened while he was gone. The lightbulb in the basement was brighter than usual. His brother’s floorboard didn’t squeak anymore. There was an elliptical in his parent’s room. Nothing was exactly how he remembered it. But, it was nice to be home.
Even though everything was a bit different.