“Homecoming” by Christina Lavingia

Dear Paul,

Today, you’re coming home. We haven’t seen you since your days of being a corporate CPA, living the destiny more often taken by college graduates. Many emotions are coursing through me at this instant. I’m overwhelmed with excitement to see you; I’m scared of how you’ll look; will you act differently around me? How much have you changed? I’ve been so used to waiting here in the living room for dad to come home from his business trips over the years, who would have thought I’d be sitting here looking forward to you coming home with that same sense of excitement and worry? Will you be wearing your uniform? What does it look like? I can’t arrange my face right.

Well, what can I say? I feel entirely abandoned by you. It is not your fault that you were so much older and that I lacked the ability at a young age to remember you. It’s selfish, I know, but I don’t think it’s okay you just went ahead and removed yourself once more from us, one degree further. Is it weak for me to admit that I need you? You’ve left me when I’ve needed you most. Just at the beginning of high school. My self-esteem is shot, mom and dad are barely holding on, and I’m just trying to grow into the adult I want to be. I thought you were supposed to help me out with that. You went ahead and made a life-changing decision. And for that I cannot blame you. But I think you have the impression that the decision you made only affected your life, when really it affected so much more. I just wish I had some more time, someone to hold my hand.

I’m so excited to see you and yet I’m afraid of how you’ve changed. What if you’re not how I remember you this time? I mean, how could you be? Weeks of basic training and significantly shorter hair later, how could I expect you to be the person I’ve always known? Dad’s left to get you from the airport. Mom and I wait. Rapt with nerves, mom walks around the house adjusting things as I sit and steal furtive glances at the darkened entryway from which you’ll enter from the garage. Honestly, though, I think I can say with certainty that I’m more worried about when you’ll be walking out that door at the end of your visit than you walking in through it now. Who would know an entryway I pass through multiple times a day could become a lifeline to you now – a book cover opening to immerse me in time with you only to close me off from you when the story is over.

Christina Lavingia is the sister of former U.S. Army soldier Paul Lavingia, a fellow gaucho.