California Re-Entry

Posted: July 15th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Friends and Strangers, Little Rhody, Miss Kate | No Comments »

Last night Kate and I returned from our nearly 3-week East Coast Tour. We didn’t have baseball-style t-shirts made to commemorate the event, but if we did the backs would read:

Bristol, RI
Harwich Port, MA
Westfield, MA
Chappaqua, NY

What’s great about going away for so long is that you don’t worry about not having time to do all the things you want to do. The down side is that gives you the “we’ve got plenty of time for that” attitude, which ultimately leaves you realizing that you didn’t do as many of the things that you wanted to do because you thought you had so much more time to do them.

For instance, we only got to the beach twice. For shame! (Some of this had to do with poor weather. For all the time I spend longing for East Coast summers, I forget that it rains there a lot, and there are also a lot of overcast days. RI really should consider having a rainy season as we do here. It sucks during it, but it gets it all over with in one fell swoop.) And we didn’t spend anywhere near enough time with friends like Ellen, John, and Story. Kate never had a play date with Danny’s daughter, Jekka. I’d wanted to call my mother’s Polish friend Sophie to introduce her to Kate, and that never happened. And I wanted to maybe visit my mother’s other friend Linda, but no.

I’m sad to report that I also only had Del’s Lemonade once. Tragic. For those of you who have never truly lived–i.e. never had a Del’s–it’s a delicious slushy lemonade that’s native to RI and sold at carts and some actual bricks and mortar Del’s establishments throughout the greatest little smallest state in the union. To be honest, if I’d never had one, and someone served me a Del’s on a cold winter day in South Dakota, I might not think it was The World’s Best Beverage, as I do. But there is something about having one on a hot humid day, combined with the fact that you can only get them at home, and of course the nostalgia/childhood taste memory factor, that make me a rabid Del’s fan. God they are good! We served them at our wedding, in fact–in martini glasses before the ceremony, not the traditional waxed cup.

Which leads me on this stream of consciousness to extol the supremely perfect wedding present my beloved friend John gave us when we were home–a framed Del’s cup. Not just framed though–it’s under this museum quality glass to preserve it, and it’s on maroon velvet. The frame is a thick dark wood, ornately carved. It’s fucking brilliant, and as much as I love owning it, I love that I’m lucky enough to have a friend cool enough to think of giving this to me as a wedding present.

At any rate, I’m happy to be home with Mark and to have our sweet nuclear family together again. But I feel the need to have some great why-I-love-living-in-California experiences quickly to help ease my re-entry into my usual world here. It’s just so damn charming and familiar and comfortable in RI. And the houses are all so old and cool, and the trees are big and shady and there is Dunkin Donuts at every turn and good spinach pies and Sam’s Pizza and funny childhood friends who I still like in their adult form, and of course my family. So you put all that in one hand, and then in the other hand you have our life here and our friends here and Mark’s rad job and the no crappy winter thing, but the expensive housing… It just seems like both ends of the scales weigh in pretty close sometimes.

But anyway, the long visit did give me a good dose of it all. And for all that I’ve complained that I didn’t get to do, I did do and see a lot. The Forta July Parade rocked our world, per usual. This year we were happy to have the Eberdave clan, now featuring Baby Henry, for their second year. And Dana (our wedding photographer) and her great hubby Joe joined in the fun. Words can’t describe how fantastic the parade is, nor how soul stirring it is to be part of the mayhem at the Connery’s. Kate was a trooper and wasn’t freaked out by the excessive people, noise, etc. And this year we boasted four high school bands that stopped marching, turned towards Casa Connery, and played a command performance for us. Four bands! Until you have a huge marching band with horns, drums, cymbals, and polyester-clad teens blast you with song, you won’t know how immensely thrilling it is. God it’s fun.

Post parade day Mark, Kate and I headed to Cape Cod where my sister Marie’s family has a house. We had one night there solo, in which Mark cooked excellent steak on the grill, and then Marie and cousin Nancy came to join in the fun. The beach there is like the Caribbean–blue and clear. It’s not super warm, but it’s no nut-shrinking Pacific Ocean. Ah summer.

After Mark left (sniff!) to return to CA and work, Kate and I went to Westfield to visit my dear dear Aunt Jenny, Mom’s sister, for a night. She is an act of nature. She’s almost 80, and works taking care of old people, if you can imagine such a thing. (To meet her, you wouldn’t be surprised one bit.) She had 18 relatives over for dinner when we were there. The woman makes a ham that could bring a grown man to tears, and she is scurrying around taking care of grandchildren, ironing her grown son’s shirts, and talking smack about the dozens of women who call her daily to chat. Don’t ever ask this woman to sit down and relax. She says she’ll die if she stops, and she’s happy going, so there’s nothing to do but stand back in amazement. At any rate, it was great catching up with her and having her meet Kate, with whom she was smitten.

Kate and I also spent a night in Chappaqua, NY visiting my friend Lauren who was at her parents for the month, but has been living in Hong Kong for nearly 5 years. So happy we decided to make this detour. Despite a hellish drive home to RI after it, our visit was deeply happy-making. Her children are dreamy and her mom is really interesting to talk to at the kitchen table. They live in this super-cool Frank Lloyd Wright community. If we’d stayed another night I would have had my bags sent for and moved in. Again, Kate made a splash. The neighbor came over one day and said she was told she had to see this baby “who is like a model.” Ha!

And for the record, Kate really was an angel for the whole trip. It is such a treat introducing her to people and sitting back and agreeing with the compliments about her cuteness and smartness and sweetness. I keep feeling like she and I have these bonding experiences and they just keep accumulating. I guess it’s that whole “I love you more to-day than yes-ter-day, bah dat da da daaah” thing.

For all the visits and lunches and dinners and gatherings one of the nicest things about our trip was the little routine we had at my Dad’s house. Kate would wake up early and I get her and go downstairs where my Dad was already awake with the dog and doing the crossword. Kate would greet Grandpa and Katie the Dog with a hearty “bye-bye”, then when Joan woke up we’d all go into the kitchen and Kate would sit in her booster seat and the four of us (or five when you count the dog) would each eat different breakfasts. The adults would take turns trying to convince Kate there was food beyond Cheerios she should eat, and Katie the Dog would happily eat any baby food that fell to the floor.

Sometimes with travel it’s about the museums that you went to and the sights that you saw, and sometimes it’s about the little things like finding that great place for breakfast that you go to every morning.

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