Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Comings and Goings

I left Utah this morning after spending a week with my sister, her husband, their new baby, and my mom. I knew it was going to be sad to leave, but I had no idea how sad. On the way to the airport my mom and I sat in the back with the baby's car seat between us. We kept peeking under the blanket shielding him to get yet another glimpse of his adorable face. My mom started to cry and I felt my chest, which had been aching, start to hurt even more, the wet pain expanding and spreading across my chest, up into my throat, causing my eyes to spill over with tears. Thankfully I had grabbed some tissues before we left the house.

I remember when we were younger and we used to visit my grand parents in Sweden for three or four weeks in the summer. At the end of our visit we would have to take a bus to the airport. I distinctly recall my grand mother sobbing, yelling out to us as the bus pulled way, our faces pressed to the windows, "I love you, I love you!" How hard that must have been for her to see her son and her grand children leave each time. To know that we were growing up so far away from her. To know that no matter how much she wanted it, no matter how much she loved us, she would never be a part of our daily life. It made my heart break a little more imagining the pain she must have gone through, which made me even more sad about having to leave my family today. What's the point of having a family that you love if you can't see them more than a few times each year? It seems like a lot of unnecessary sadness.

There were times during the past week when I was frustrated and stressed out from being around my family 24/7. I'll admit it. It happened. We are all very different people and we know how to really aggravate one another, without even trying to. And, yes, I feel slightly guilty about having those feelings of frustration. But, I shouldn't because no amount of frustration or stress could ever take away from how much I love them. The frustration and stress and love all exist together. It's how they are and I am and how we are together, and I wouldn't change them for anything (although I wouldn't stand in their way if they all decided to go to therapy...).

For every moment of stress or frustration there was a moment of love and affection. I loved waking up in the mornings and sitting in my sister's kitchen with her and my mom drinking coffee and hearing about how the night had gone with the baby. Any time my sister asked me for anything (which she really didn't do all that often), I felt so happy that I was there and could actually be of some small help to her. I liked getting her glasses of milk as she sat breast feeding, and I loved holding the baby for her. Those moments of happiness and contentment made everything worthwhile.

For Bean too. When I asked her if we had annoyed her, she said, "Yeah, but of course I wanted you to be here." That's why I love my family. Underneath all of the messiness - the small annoyances, the intense frustrations, the worrying, the judgments, the unintended criticisms - there is fierce, honest, unconditional love. They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.

Even though a little piece of my heart broke to leave them this morning, coming back to New York felt good. Good in the way that slipping on a broken in pair of jeans feels. An almost perfect fit, back in my own space, with my bed, my room, my apartment, my food, my stores, my city, my smells, my computer, my things to do, my friends.

"Perfect" would be if my family - and for that matter, all of my close friends who are scattered inconveniently across the United States - lived in New York, or really close by. Until then, or until I finally fall victim to the magnetic pull of the tractor beam aimed at me from Texas, I'm just going to have to invest in a web cam and expand my cell phone plan.


Sparky Duck said...

what a great post. My family lives far away and while I look forward to coming home to see my kitties and am usually preoccupied with the fear of flying on the way to the airport, I get that same feeling you describe the night before we are to leave.

Lisa said...

Congrats on auntiedom! :-)

I know how you feel about family. I don't see mine often enough, either. When I do, they can drive me right up a wall (as I'm sure I can do to them!), but it always makes me sad to leave.

Gypsy said...

So sad to leave them, but you've found your spot.

I miss my mom so much. She drives me crazy, but I'd love for her to be closer. She's talking about moving back -- we'll see.

Starshine said...

Oh, Buttercup, I can so relate to how you are feeling! I am so close to my family, and they live half a country away!

I think one of the blessings of living in America (all of the opportunity) is also the curse (the opportunities are spread out in different places from coast to coast).

I miss my family so much, and I would so love for them to live closeby! But for me to move back to Texas would mean (at least right now) giving up on a dream that I have not yet realized.

Thank God for free cell to cell minutes, the internet, and air plane tickets!

gravelly said...

I can't read the end of the post as I am blinded by my tears. Don't forget, when the time comes, I want to be your au pair!

InterstellarLass said...

I live really close to all my family, so I feel more of the frustration than the longing. I've never lived more than 45 minutes drive from my mom. But even when it comes down to our dysfunction, and the stress I feel when putting on the holidays, I feel horrible when we don't spend it together.

Karianne said...

Friends of mine just moved back to their home state to be closer to family. But as they said, not too close.

My nana, mom and bro all live next door to each other in different houses.

My sis and I live one block away from each other. None of us wants to move.

Our dad lived 20 minutes away. We felt that was pretty far!