Well, our vacation is over. Though, I must admit, I don’t recall much relaxing. I’m not complaining, of course, but I believe we have just emerged from the busiest three weeks of my life. But now we’re back on the island, (almost) unpacked, (relatively) settled in, and Ivan has already started classes.
To say that I was excited to go home over the break would be an egregious understatement. During our time in Grenada, I have and continue to struggle with identity and separation issues. Most individuals in my position face the same concerns, so it’s nothing particularly unique; I’m just learning how to cope with continuous dramatic change and do my best to adapt. Unfortunately I’m also learning that adapting is not a remarkably strong skill of mine. Understandably, returning home was a pretty big deal for me. Thankfully, Erie, Pennsylvania has done very little in the way of change and we arrived to find our home as ever it has been.
Before even getting to Erie, we spent our first night in Pittsburgh. Despite a serious lack of adequate sleep, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with nephew, Eddie, and niece, Emma. Particularly enjoyable was sicking Eddie on a sleeping Uncle Ivan and Grandma, then feeding him cookies for breakfast. (Because what kind of aunt would I be to deprive him of the sugar necessary to send him cartwheeling into deep trouble with his groggy dad?) Following our horseplay, Ivan and I met with his parents to have an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (cue the Homer-Simpson-drooling-for-doughnuts sound) for Ivan’s 29th birthday. That’s right; we are both officially in our last year of adolescence. I admit, I am not ready for thirty. For some reason, I assimilate thirty with adulthood—because, let’s be honest, no one actually acts like an adult in their twenties.
But I digress; that’s a story and a tiny violin for a birthday yet to come.
I don’t have chronological recollection of our time spent in the States. We were always trying to fit in one more visit somewhere or with someone. I’m happy to say that we saw almost everyone we wanted, though maybe not for long enough; every visit seemed so brief. Of course, during the holiday season, everyone is busy. We were very lucky to have seen those we did.
Christmas was spent, traditionally, first at my parents’ house (how Santa knew I’d love more of the Starbucks Via instant coffees to bring back to Grenada, I’ll never know!) and finished up at my grandparents’ house. We spent Christmas Eve with Ivan’s family where we both got to meet our great nephew (that’s a title, not just an adjective!) for the first time. The day after Christmas, winter storm Euclid hit our area and we hunkered down for the evening. Though, since my list of demands (yes, there was a list of demands to be fulfilled upon my arrival) included some G-darn burgers, Dad coaxed a glowing mound of charcoal to life and grilled some patties (100% local beef). And he did it outside in the blizzard. Why, yes, I am lucky to be surrounded by such awesomeness!
We visited with Eddie and Emma (nephew and niece) and Ed and Megan (brother and sister-in-law) again after Christmas. One of the sweetest moments of our visit happened the weekend they were in town. Eddie (4 years old) had “bought” presents for a few people, me included. It was a pretty ring with a heart-shaped rhinestone—a gift he’d gotten for another aunt as well as his mom. When presenting his gifts, he stopped short and looked utterly distraught for a moment. He looked at Megan, round-eyed and concerned, and said, “Oh no, Mom! I forgot to get Ivan a present!” The genuine distress he had was about the cutest and most pitiful thing I’d ever seen. As luck would have it, he did have a gift for his uncle. Eddie ran up to Ivan and said, “Ivan, I didn’t get you a present, so I will hug you and you can have the hug for a present.” On a scale of ridiculously cute, I’d give that a “for crying out loud” cute score!
We spent New Year’s Eve at… well, I’m not entirely sure there. We were with friends who took us to their friends’ house. So, we spent New Year’s Eve at the house of friends of friends. The house of friends of friends was an impressive, at times intimidating locale, albeit full of good company. The house of friends of friends was one of those places that you say to yourself, “Someday, when my husband is a rich doctor, we’ll own one of these in the Keys as a modest vacation home. Like, when we’re bored with our five other better homes.” Seriously, though, the house of friends of friends was a pretty nice place, with an even nicer spread. The friends of friends were no amateur hosts, that much was clear. And to bring in the New Year in style, we were given noise makers and flashy, glittery headgear. Style was about the only thing I had going on when the ball dropped, though. At the end of the countdown, I waited, expectantly, for my husband to plant that New Year’s kiss squarely on my lips, only to find that his were too busy downing our shared glass of champagne. I think I gave one of those raised-eyebrow, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding looks before he rectified his mistake. Yay! Happy New Year kiss! And thus began our 2013.
Busy we may have been, but I wouldn’t have traded the controlled chaos of our vacation for anything! Ivan and I got to hang out with family, laugh with friends, tromp through the snow, visit our favorite places with our favorite people, and take pictures of it all! We were fortunate enough to be allowed to spend plenty (though, still not nearly enough) time with our dog, Babe, and visit with our other happy pup (or, I guess, senior), Ajax. We got to catch up with family in person, rather than via Skype. And let’s not forget the food! So much amazingly mouth wateringly fabulous food! The flight back must have been really fast, though, because all the weight I know I put on hasn’t quite caught up with me yet. My only regret was not being able to visit with Eddie, Emma, Ed and Megan one more time before we left. We had to cancel our plans to spend a couple last days with them when the flu descended upon them.
And that’s the story of my trip home. A Happy New Year to all!