Sometimes in life, you are inconvenienced by your “values”. You don’t dish some particularly juicy gossip. You help a friend move in 80 degree weather with 80% humidity. You buy a car that isn’t as big as you would enjoy but that has great gas mileage. Well, a month or so ago my mom called me up with a crazy plan. “I want to take the kids to see grandma in California”. Her version of the plan involved two cross country flights and a 16 hour drive from Washington to Merced for my little guys.
But the thing was, almost all my grandmother’s descendants were descending upon that Mecca of fig-growing, that irrigated paradise. And my mother really wanted her mother to at least get to MEET Thane for the first time, and to encounter Grey as a verbal and interesting person. She had an excellent point. I cogitated. Now, if asked to name some of life’s priorities, I’d probably include family among them. Or maybe I wouldn’t even… I’d forget to articulate it because OF COURSE family is one of life’s priorities. But the options for getting the boys out to see their great-grandmother were all difficult and inconvenient. Round trip tickets. Long drives. But the one that made the MOST sense was for me to take the boys out, see my own grandmother, and return with them. That was what living up to “My family is important to me” meant. But with the newish job and the merger and the trip to Istanbul in two weeks… I didn’t have a lot of time to take. Two days seemed like the most vacation time that I could scramble together.
So that is what I did. We left Wednesday night. The flight was a red-eye, delayed nearly two hours. I sang about 80 verses of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and blessed the fact that an empty seat meant I could bring Thane’s car seat. He’s still (barely) young enough to be a lap child, but that wouldn’t have been fun for anyone, including everyone in a four aisle radius. We finally got on board, and Grey went to sleep. Thane fell asleep too, but he woke up about ever half hour screaming BLOODY murder. The entire flight. The only cool part was the lightening. For the entire interior of the country, for about 5 of these wakings, the horizon flickered with the menacing lightening.
I arrived late and tired, and my folks picked me up at the airport. Thursday and Friday I spent with my family. There was swimming in the pool. I got to talk with cousins I remember from when they were tiny, one whose birth happened during Christmas at my house when I was 16. The one whose birth I so vividly remember is 15 now, and wants to learn about programming. It’s surprisingly flattering when one’s teenage hacker cousin seeks one out for technical advice and looks up to one as an Oracle because one is a real live programmer. It was really lovely to see my extended family again.
Saturday, we went to the airport by was of Yosemite valley. My only regret is that I didn’t have a week to spend in Yosemite. It was glorious and fantastic and amazing and deserved way more time than we had. We got the kids out of the car, and walking towards a stomping ground I remember, in 90 degree heat (Central Valley spent the week at 102 – 103). We walked past this shallow, pebbly stream in dappled sunlight. This was not to be resisted. We stripped the kids down and there was a great frolic in the river. It was awesome.
Then Saturday night I flew back home with the boys. It went slightly better. Thane only woke up every hour, and his screaming was diminished in intensity, until I woke him up to get off the airplane.
There are some things where the memories and the pictures are priceless. I got a picture of my grandmother with all but three of her direct descendants. I saw Yosemite for the first time as an adult. I got to spend an evening in a hot desert patio with my cousin, talking about his dreams and desires. I read the poem my grandmother wrote to my grandfather on their second anniversary. I gave her a hug and I told her I loved her. I had the best maple bar of my life.
These, my friends, are the things that matter. Not the red-eyes and crying babies and inconvenient schedules. I’m so glad and grateful that I had this opportunity.