A family visit

These last few weeks have been rather wild, to say the least. I've been busy without time to clean the house....forget about writing, or relaxing. I squeezed in the occasional shower, cooked rarely, instead I entertained! We celebrated my birthday while I aged a little faster...

It was good having family here, but in the future they will need to be spaced better. We all are too particular, the quarters and the staff at hand were simply not adequate....(Think summer camp for grown-ups)
My parents are not an easy couple at the best of times, but in foreign environment it has been more difficult. I spare you the details. I am sure you all can fill in the blanks with your own experiences. 
They had exactly one week planned for their visit to us in America after 10 years and at first I was a little disappointed about the short duration of their stay. After all they spend three months in France each year....  But some tensions between guests arose. And at the end of that week I drove them back to the airport, with a sweet and sour feeling. I've had a dream prior to their arrival, some sort of dark premonition. So, why was I surprised?  I had hoped after we all had not been together for so long it would be different. But some things never change.
Did I mention my sister was here too for the very first time in America? My parents and her travelled together. It was great having her,  just the overlay with the parents was unfortunate. And my oldest son and his sweet girl? Would it not have been for them, I would have surrendered to a looming depression. I am sure any psychoanalyst, reading this, will have a field day!
And then there was our family in full back-to-work/school swing. Topped by a husband,  away on business for a good chunk out of that particular week. Of course nothing like that was planned this way. 
It has taken all my energy and a little more. While all this was happening my washer and dryer broke and I am since then stranded without them. Four weeks now.
Visiting the laundromat is an humbling and time consuming experience. But it gave me time to think. Quietly, without interruptions. Only my sister and my son's girl joined me there.
We bonded deeper over dirty laundry! Thank you, girls! 
I missed you there yesterday!
I will be ever so grateful when I'll finally wash and dry laundry in my own home again. No more complains over that kind of home-work. (Please remind me later.)
The new state-of-the-art equipment is supposed to arrive next week, after a false attempt with half of the parts missing last week. I really dislike Home Depot. At least the one near us is simply impossible. Ill educated sales people and incompetent customer service.

After all that driving to and from airports, dinners, sightseeing and the shops I am happy to sit at home, rub my silver in contemplation and enjoy the sunny autumn moments on the deck, surrounded just by the birds....
Why is it so hard to find a middle ground in such times? The expectations are high, everybody is aware of the short time together. We all have our ideas of what's important and it looks like there is no right way to satisfy all our needs.

There are only few things truly helping: Some humor and tolerance! 

Tolerance for not enough time spend with each and every one, for too much time spend there instead of here, for not cooking the right meal or for going out to dinner again, for the stories told, for driving lunch to school at times when I should have gone elsewhere, for running around and trying to be everywhere at the same time! For talking about inheritance...
For spoiling the kids and being slave to one's own customs.
And humor to laugh about all that non-sense!

Image via  E. Braeunig

And yet, after they have all left, there is a gaping hole, an empty space in my aching heart!

I think of all the thoughts I have not shared, words I have not spoken, failed attempts to sooth the excited waves of family turmoils....for not bringing enough peace. For trying too hard.

Images via Kykuit website

But foremost I think of all the wonderful things we did do: The walks in the New York City, the places we've been to (Kykuit, above), the times we spend talking and eating delicious food and drinking good wine. The walks around the block and the chats with my sister. The great dinners and shared feelings. Holding my mother's hand. Listening to all their voices.
The gifts I received. Thank you so much! All of you! 

 The time of having them all together here at our home in America, so rare, still lingers in my mind. I cannot regret this, although I have had my doubts.

The discovery of yet another great neighborhood in Brooklyn with my older visiting kids was worth every driven mile! They stayed on a week longer (too short) 
and I relaxed in their presence.

 BoCoCa (Brooklyn); where we walked for hours and finally ended up in a wonderful bookstore to discover one of our favorite writers: Bernhard Schlink (The Reader, Flights of Love, The Gordian Knot and the latest The Weekend), ready for a reading that very night. Of course we stayed...

It was wonderful. 

The past weeks have been a reality check of sorts and a lesson towards my own, perhaps overgrown expectations.
How come that one tends to ignore past experiences?
I have learned that less is sometimes more and more tolerance eases some pain. C'est la Vie! Laugh out loud!

And that red wine is really good for my mood! There should be a prescription available from the doctor.

Just this morning after having written my post yesterday
I wanted to add some words Steve Jobs once wrote: 

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
-Steve Jobs 1955-2011 

The words just for me! May he rest in peace! He was so creative and inspiring.

All images by V.Zlotkowski and as indicated. Painting by Jan Steen.


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