I’m home! As in Milwaukee-home-where-I-live-now, and not in Detroit-home-where-I-grew-up.
A week and a half away and my kids didn’t change that much. See?
Christmas.) Cute as proverbial buttons. Or even literal buttons, assuming said buttons are darned cute.
Returning home is always an interesting experience to me. Either direction,
actually. This was the longest period of time I’ve spent in the home
where I grew up since having kids without my kids along. It was roughly
the same amount of time I spent apart from my kids when I was in Alaska
a couple of years ago. When I think about how hard a week and a half
away from my children was, I’m struck anew at how big a sacrifice it was
for my husband to be away from them for a year or more. I don’t think I
could stand it.
Being in my childhood home with my mom and my brother was nice. The hospital
wore me out, but dad got stronger every day so the experience was a
hopeful one overall. I forgot just how noisy the house is in the winter
when the radiators ping and bang, and my mom has finally had enough of
our complaints about the shower and is getting that improved. I fixed
the toilet myself. Arno helped my mom set up her new computer and even
got wireless internet working in the house after a long drawn out phone
saga with all kinds of tech people around the world. I introduced my
mom to the joys of Project Runway on Hulu. I wish I’d had more time
with my niece and my other brother and his girlfriend, but our visits overlapped just long enough to say hello. My shift was done.
I love my family so much and they are so interesting that I always
think of myself as the lucky one for getting to be in their lives. I
never think of anyone as being lucky to be with me, particularly. But
my dad was so happy in the hospital every time he woke up and saw me
sitting next to him. Just being there made a difference. My mom made
sure I knew how much she loved having me home.
And Arno said, “Apart
from the hospital, hasn’t this been fun?” I never think of Arno as
missing me, really. I know he lovers me, but his life is busy and
filled with colorful and brilliant characters and I’m just me. But when
I left after breakfast I said goodbye to mom and Krisite in the
kitchen, and Barrett and Ellora outside as they went to walk the dog,
and Arno put on his coat just to come give me one more hug. Then he
stood on the sidewalk and watched me drive away. When I looked in the
mirror before turning the corner at the end of the block and saw him
still there I burst into tears. How strange life is, that dark
circumstances can offer up some of the greatest light. Who knows the
next time I’ll have the opportunity to spend that much time with my
brother again? What a rare and lovely thing.
The drive home was snowy and long and grey and dull, but I didn’t hit
traffic jams in Chicago or construction in Indiana or need to call
Triple-A for anything, so that was great. And then I got to be home.
The new home at the other end of the drive from the old home. I love
being home. I missed my husband and my kids and my bed and my regular
Ian said the kids did fine without me. Quinn wouldn’t speak to me on
the phone when I called because he was mad, but otherwise he went about
life as usual. When I came in the back door last night he was all
smiles and hugs and seems to have forgiven me.
Considering this was how
he looked when I told him I was leaving I’m relieved.
The funny thing to me about travel is how fast the experience can
seem to close up behind you when you return home. I remember after
spending a month in India (before we had kids) getting into the bathtub
soon after we walked in the door and lying there past the point where
the water was warm because I knew if I got out and walked into my old
routine that India would start to fade, and I wasn’t ready for that. I
wanted to keep India and the new things I’d learned a little longer.
But there is no haggling with auto-rickshaw drivers in Milwaukee or
eating off banana leaves or leaping on or off of moving trains. It all
receded into a distinct place known as the past with astonishing speed.
Same thing with my time in Detroit. It felt very long while I was
there. I created a new rhythm for my days from hospital hours and my
parents’ needs and my brother’s availability. It’s odd to have that
time shrink in my memory as I get back to life with Ian and the kids and
the violin store. It was difficult to see my dad in pain,
but inspiring to see him improve. I have complete confidence that he’s
in good hands with the help he has currently, so it’s not as nerve
wracking for me now that I’m back in Milwaukee. I need to return to the
life I’ve created here, and I don’t feel guilty anymore for leading it,
which I did before the trip.
It’s nice to feel helpful, needed, welcomed and loved, at either end of my journey.