Friday, July 07, 2006

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Bullets, because otherwise I will never get around to writing this post.

1. California is really an entirely different country from Delaware. At least, it should be. Everything is different, and I'm always struck by that whenever I go home. I've been going home now for 15 years, and I'm still struck by it. The smells are different: the flowers, the trees, even the factories produce aromas that you just don't find in L.A. The light is different: in Delaware there are trees--big, leafy trees--that filter much of the sunlight, while California has smaller, thinner trees, trees that don't take up so much space, that don't offer the same kind of shade. The clouds are different, too: Delaware has the big, puffy cumulus clouds, clouds that change over the course of a day or a week. Los Angeles doesn't have clouds to speak of, not really. The enormous uninterrupted expanse of blue sky that you see in L.A. almost every single day does not exist in Delaware. Of course the climate is different--it's humid in Delaware: thick, oppressive, sweaty heat. Wet heat that moisturizes your skin and plumps up dry limp hair like mine. Not the mild, dry heat you get out here. But most of all, the people are different. People look different in Delaware. I've been trying to figure out why for as long as I've been living on the other coast. Is it the haircuts? The clothes? The Phillies caps and the Tevas? The genealogy? Definitely less Mexican, more Puerto Rican. Less Hispanic in general and more African American. More Italian, I think--only maybe it's just that there are more Southern Italians in Delaware and more Northern Italians in L.A. I don't really know how to describe this, but there is a "look" to people that I recognize the minute I get off the plane in Philadelphia, a "look" that feels as familiar to me as my mother's potato salad. Maybe it has nothing to do with genealogy and everything to do with me, and my nostalgia for home; I'm just not sure. But it fascinates me, every time I go home.

2. I love my family, all of them: my five aunts and uncles on my mother's side and their spouses and children, my two living grandmothers, my parents, my siblings, my brother-in-law, my niece and nephew. Even the 3 aunts and uncles on my fathers' side, who we rarely see, I have no issues with them. We have our typical family squabbles, but there is no high drama. However. However, I am very very glad to live 3000 miles away, and not only because I am afforded prodigal daughter status whenever I go home. Also because I have this very strong feeling that if I lived less than a mile from my parents, the way my sister does, I would not love my family nearly the same way. And they would not love me, either. My parents can be prickly; let's just leave it at that.

3. Lance and I do not get along around my parents. After 8 years of marriage and countless visits to my folks, we have not yet figured out how to appreciate each other the same way we do when we are in L.A. I'm sure part of me reverts to adolescent behavior when I'm around family, but Lance is also guilty. He feels threatened by how much I miss home and ends up acting snide and irrational when at home he'd be making jokes. Knowing that he feels threatened somehow does not translate into me toning down my "oh, I wish we had lightning bugs in California" comments but instead ratchets them up a notch. ( I've been known to complain that California doesn't have mosquitos--there's something I need to see a therapist about.) My mother loves to play "pick one child and gang up on them" games (no doubt learned in a childhood shared with 5 siblings) and Lance is thrilled to play along, especially if Amy is the victim. Lastly--and this one deserves a post of its own, but god knows when I'll get to it, since it requires retrospection and thought, something in short supply at the POW household lately--I seem to have married my father. And two controlling guys, used to having their own way, do not always mesh seamlessly. Throw in Lance's passive-aggressive tendencies and my own shrill, defensive and critical behavior and all is not always fun.

4. I'd love to talk about FFB here, but since he occasionally reads this blog (thanks again, Lance!) I guess I can't relay how annoying it is that he refuses to share his every thought and emotion with the rest of the clan. How, duh!, we all just want the best for him and why can't he just tell us what he's thinking so we can all dissect it to bits until we've solved all of his problems for him, without asking his permission. I will say that it's always, always great to have him around, and even if he doesn't feel the same way about the rest of us, we still smile bigger whenever he's in town. (Is this how it always is with the youngest? The youngest, the most loved, the one who doesn't necessarily return the love, he is the one we all want to be with? Is that why he doesn't share things with us? Because our love, our need, our want is too strong? FFB, elaborate.)

5. Isaac learned to swim. He can't lift his head to take a breath on his own yet, but he can easily swim 5 feet or more all by himself. I can't tell you how pleased I am about this, not least of all because we didn't have to attend any classes for this to happen. Vivian, of course, is not about to put her head under water, though she will blow bubbles on demand, and likes to float along the top step of the bubble yelling "Watch me! Watch me, Mommy, I swimming!!"

6. My sister lives less than a mile from my parents. (Did I mention?) Yikes. She is a saint. An occasionally opinionated, rigid, anal saint, but a saint nonetheless*. Though, she makes my niece and nephew do schoolwork during the summer. Isn't there some law against that? Shouldn't there be?

7. We spent a week at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My parents own a rental property there, and for the last 4 or 5 years, my dad has allowed us to spend time there during the season. This is huge, as for the 15 years he owned the property before that we were only allowed to stay there during the winter, when it's cold and windy and there's nothing to do. We had a great time, and Lance couldn't complain about there feeling "claustrophobic" because he's so far away from the ocean. (God.) My niece, who is 9, loved babysitting, and my kids worshipped their older cousins (my nephew is 10). This made for a sometimes relaxing vacation, which those of you with toddlers know is an oxymoron.

8. Why can't my best friend--you know, one of the ONLY close friends I have with children--live on the West Coast? Why must she persist in staying in Delaware, so that I can't run over to her house with Vivian whenever I need a distraction? Her daughter is Isaac's age, and her son is the cutest two month old you've ever seen, and now I will not see them again until Christmas. Bah.

*If my sister had a blog, I can only imagine the adjectives she might use to describe me. (Clueless? Self-absorbed? Not-very-smart?)

And now, pictures:

Vivian and her cousin Sawyer, in the matching Lilly dresses my mother snuck out and bought, careful to remove the price tag before she presented them. Wasn't I talking about grandmotherly excess just the other day?

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My best friends'** kids and my kids--don't they look like they'd all be great friends? If only we lived closer . . .
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Isaac, jumping off the diving board. (Hmm, maybe you didn't actually need a description here. Uh, that's my nephew, Kitchel, standing on the side. There.)

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. . and swimming:

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Three generations (me, my mom, her mom, my sister):

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At the beach:
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**Don't worry, Heidi, you are also my best friend!

1 comment:

isimsiz kahraman said...
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