I'm just back from three and a half weeks of vacation in Arkansas, and I hardly know how to feel. It was delightful to see my mother again (it had been almost a year and a half since I'd been there), to sit in her kitchen, and talk about food and holidays gone by. It was joyful -- as always -- to see Tammy, to laugh with her, and to share in her life. It was invigorating to smell the rain, see the leaves turn color and then let go, and to cook with my mom. It was healing to see more family -- an aunt, my siblings, my nephew and his new girlfriend -- even for short visits.
Tammy and I went to the Homecoming football game my first Friday there. We sat in the cold and the wind, and watched the undefeated Mountain Home Bombers lose their first game of the season. Neither of us had been to a high school football game since we graduated. Cold as we were, we had a good time. Seeing the band march at half-time was a very emotional -- but very exciting -- experience for me. I love marching bands, but had a horrible experience in band when I was that age. It pained me, but I quit band after my sophmore year to pursue other interests -- and save my sanity.
Mom and I cooked together, talked food, and watched The Foot Network. Food is one of my strongest connections to my mother; not having a daughter of my own to cook with is one of my great disappointments. Most days I don't feel that loss, but when I'm with my mother, measuring and stirring, it's hard not to feel the emptiness of a tradition ended. Luckily, there was lots of good restaurant food, too, to take my mind off of it!
There was also a good book on my nightstand to distract and cheer me. My sister brought her copy of A Handmade Life by Molly Wizenberg for my mother to read, and I nabbed it. Molly (creator of the blog Organette) is a delightful writer, personal and conversational. Each chapter is a vignette in her life, followed by a recipe or two mentioned in the story. It was particularly poignant for me to read about her father's illness and death, as I still occasionally struggle with the loss of my own father, not too many years ago. It was both exciting and nostalgic to read of her long-distance romance with (and later marriage to) someone she met because of her blog, as I met my own husband over the internet. I enjoyed the book so much that I put it on my Amazon wishlist; I definitely plan to own this book!
The last week of vacation, I was joined by my husband, John. Even though he spent quite a bit of time falling in love with the area before we were married, he's not spent very much time there since then. In fact, this was only his third trip to Mountain Home since we married, almost 11 years ago. I enjoyed showing him the changes since his last visit and visiting old haunts with him. It was a sweet interlude for us.
Vacation was nice, but today was nicer.
Even though I had several things that I could have done today, I did only three things that I absolutely needed to do: I made two phone calls and cooked dinner for my husband (which is really more of a "want to" than a "need to"). The rest of the day was spent ingratiating myself to The Kitties Three, reading, surfing the internet, and writing. I treated today as kind of a transition day between vacation time and the calls of my everyday life. There is plenty of time, tomorrow, for listening to the answering machine messages, dusting, and unpacking. It was good to be back in my own home and lounging on my own bed.
As much as I love my mother's house -- the house I grew up in -- it's not the house I share with my husband and my fur-babies. As much as I enjoy seeing my mother, Tammy, andn Mountain Home, the day-to-dayness of it isn't the life I've built in California -- and I love this life. I'm always torn when I leave Mountain Home, because I'm not sure, quite frankly, how much time I have with my mother, with my brother and sister, with my friends there. I want to stay forever, and I want to return to my own home and the life I've developed in it.
Vacation was nice, but today was nicer.