Late each November we remind ourselves we’re thankful for home and loved ones, but at our house this year it’ll carry extra weight. After the holidays our family portrait is spreading out in a couple different directions.
Katie’s coming home from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania for the Thanksgiving weekend, and again for Christmas. Then in January she’s going to Amman, Jordan, on her overseas semester.
Katie majors in Middle Eastern studies and is learning Arabic. She’ll be living with a family, and I’m told Amman is pretty safe. I have mixed feelings about her field of study, but I’ve decided to think of next semester as a no-lose situation: If she likes it, fine. And if she hates it, she won’t go back.
In the meantime, I’m extra glad she’ll be here for the holidays. We like to watch DVDs of “The Office” together.
As for me, my own personal thankfulness for Laguna — warm, lovely Laguna, where every prospect pleases and you get lots of live theater — is bittersweet this Thanksgiving. By January I’ll be snowbound in northern Illinois, dispensing dubious wisdom to a captive audience of college students for my own out-of-state semester.
See, Knox College in Galesburg is where I went to school, and I thought it would be great to go back as a teacher for a term or two. As it worked out, though, they only want me at a time of year when everyone back there wants to come out here.
One thing about the Kiralys: When we travel, we don’t just hit the clichéd places. Let others crowd into the Coliseum or the Louvre; give us Amman and Galesburg.
Patti Jo will visit Katie, and I may be able to visit Katie, and Patti Jo may visit me, and I may come back briefly, but for much of the winter the Kiraly pins are going to be stuck all over the map.
And this January, while you look out at that same old Pacific sunset, I’ll be in America’s heartland doing what I used to do at least once every winter — falling on the ice while walking with two bags of groceries. I have a surefire technique.
One heel slips and I try to recover with the other one and then it slips, and I get to backpedaling and my arms go shooting up and the groceries sail up in the air as I land on my tailbone on the pavement. It’s a satisfying sight to the passerby. Sometimes if I have time before I land I say, “Woo-woo-woo!”
As I hit the frozen cement, I’ll be thinking of you.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version is available on DVD.