After a red-eye from LA gone horribly wrong, after a shout goes up in airport security and then a bunch of shouts and then orders "not to move!" shouted at all of stripping down for detection, just a test; after diddling on the runway that means at take-off I know I've missed my connection; after trying to get overhead saying, "Okay, someone with a lovely lime green purse, would you like to put it under the seat in front of you instead of up here? Anyone? Lime green? Oh, you all are gems," and shove my suitcase in hopefully crushing important stuff in Miss Lime-Green I couldn't possible put my pocketbook on the FLOOR..."; after the PA announcement on the airplane "if anyone on board is a doctor, nurse or paramedic would you please..."; after the person in need of medical attention holds on; after NOT sleeping; after two hostile seatmates ("but what should I do for leg space if you're sitting next to me?" from the short guy... ) after the flight attendant tells me I can make my connection; after I sprint -- it's now 3am PST -- and it's long gone; after trying to switch flights again to get me closer to home; after not sleeping on two more flights; after flying over my town three times without ever landing in it ...
My dad picks me up at the Panama City airport, two hours away. I fall asleep in the back seat, just like old times ...
I finally get home to my family. For your visual pleasure, here we are as THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS -- please not Stiller's fro (the sweatsuit is red), Paltrow's eyeliner, Luke Wilson's sweatband, Owen Wilson's cowboy hat, and the best Huston and Hackman action we can muster. Do we have more weird, embarrassing family photos like this? We do. Of course we do.
So I'm home. This is what it's like:
The three-year-old has a purple mark on his forehead. From what, you ask?
The G. explains that it involves, "A suction-cup dart, some spit, and a ten-year-old brother." She's quick to add, "I wasn't here! Not on my watch!"
"But the nicks from scratching his cheeks accidentally in his sleep have almost gone away ... now this?" It's like raising Edward Scissorhands.
The ten-year-old also has a lighter suction-cup mark on his forehead. Although Otis swears it was all his idea, the ten-year-old looks awfully suspicious now.
Dave and the ten year old come home sweaty from soccer.
My daughter is watching 16 Candles, appropriately, as she just had her 16th birthday (Click here for the post: 16 Years Ago Today, I Gave Birth to a Bad Ass.) and it's on one of the high-numbered channels, lightly censored for TV.
My 14 year old is wiping silver spray paint on a steampunk gun so that it looks old. He's also walking around in spikes, carrying a bat. I don't know why.
My 10 year old is mad at the 14 year old for spray-painting HIS gun with HIS sock.
Otis and Dave show me all the changes. While I was out for a week, Dave got a lamp for the living room because, well, it was weird how when the G.'s mom came over and I wanted to show her the new set up (the liv-diningroom), I had to use a flashlight. It's a good lamp.
(The room is decorated with streamers from the sweet 16 fest.)
Dave got new light fixtures in the bathroom to replace the rusty one, in the hall (there'd just been a bare bulb for years), upstairs, which I try never to venture up into ... kid territory -- as scary as the bottom depths of my pocketbook. It all looks great.
Otis shows me his books from Bingo Book Night. He shows me his bird book. He shows me the little dollies the neighbor gave him. He shows me how he's learned to wear his leggings with puff-balls with his new boots. There's a note on the fridge in the G.'s handwriting: Otis wants pink boots for his birthday.
I take off my own boots and hand them to my 16 year old daughter. I wore them this week -- two sizes too big -- for my meetings with the promise of giving them to her when done. A deal's a deal. She's happy with these boots, which are much like the boots I wore at 19-21, also two sizes too big because they were a hand-me-down from a best friend.
My parents come for dinner; my dad's made the sauce. I debrief a little -- some tales. But I can't even scratch the surface of my week and neither can they. It's been a full sprint.
Did they throw out the sofa in the back yard sitting under the eaves -- the one the collie ate and Phoebe and I stripped down to springs? The one Phoebe planned to chain to the ceiling and outfit with wings? My mother and Dave had been conspiring to haul it to the street when I was out of town.
But they didn't!
It's still there!
And I say, "One day I'm going to reupholster it myself! I know exactly what I want to do with it." And I tap my head like people do when they tell me they've got a great novel -- tap tap tap -- all up here in their heads.
The children start brawling loudly -- musically, really, if you listen just the right way ...
And this is home. It's sweet. And weird. But mostly sweet.