Dear Hubby, the kidlets and I have been on vacation for the past week. Relatives in distant cities provide us with a perfectly reasonable excuse to fly half way across the country for Spring break. Auntie J and Brother Mine live in San Francisco and I must say, even with a few foggy mornings, it was a wonderfully welcome respite from March in Minnesota. I heard that it had snowed while we were away. I was hoping it had melted and my tulips had sprouted. Nope. Ah well, spring will be here soon enough. It always is.
Here’s the thing about travel though: it tends to bring out a body’s odd little idiosyncrasies. Dear Hubby is a bit of a nervous traveler. He prefers not to eat until he is at the airport, checked in and boarded. Once on the airplane, his stomach settles and he is fine. Generally, I like my things to be organized and when we travel that is magnified times three. I have smallish children after all. They each have a backpack that is meticulously packed to include books, art supplies, toys and other necessary items. For Goose, this means her white blanket, Nighnighwhy. For Bear, it means his teddy bear, Super Buddy. It also means a change of clothes, snacks, water, chewing gum to keep our ears from popping, tissues and wet wipes. Once all of these things are packed Bear and Goose must test out the weight of their packs to see if they can manage them alone in the airport. This part is very important. I will not carry their packs for them. Dear Hubby may be prevailed upon to carry a pack if Goose strikes on just the right combination of eyelash batting and Please-Daddies. Not me. I am sort of a pill about this packing. Each item has its place for the best distribution of weight and accessibility. I confess to typing packing lists prior to our trips and then packing all items at least once, maybe twice, until I am satisfied. I like to think of myself as a relaxed traveler, but in all honesty that’s probably a false self-perception. At least I relax a bit when we arrive at our destination. A bit.
A trip to San Francisco is an exercise in going with the flow. Auntie J lives in the Outer Richmond near Sutro Heights Park and Brother Mine lives between Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow. We stay at Auntie J’s home, but there is lots of back and forth. We thought about postponing our trip until the summer, when my cousin, Adeline would be there with her family, but we worried it might be too chaotic with five adults and three children and various others coming and going. So, we opted for a spring break and a quieter pace. It’s not that I don’t love having time with my cousin. She lives in Brooklyn and we don’t get to see each other often enough. There are all sorts of people we like to try to see when we’re in the Bay Area too. But, it turns out that we had the majority of the week to ourselves. Until…
The end of the week brought some surprise visitors and one of Auntie J’s come-one-come-all sort of dinners. Adeline, her husband D and their son, The Bee were in Los Angeles where they are in preproduction for a play D wrote and is directing. Adeline and The Bee flew up to see us on Friday. Our other cousin, Kate, a college freshman in Portland, flew down on Saturday. It was only the third time that we four first cousins were in the same place at the same time. The first time was for a funeral, the second time was for a wedding, and this time was just because. Then D flew in late Saturday night. In theory, six adults and three children under one roof isn’t much, but chaos arose, beds were juggled, food flew about the kitchen, dishes overflowed, towels became scarce, and kidlets ran amuck and threatened to become feral. The adults turned on one another, fashioning spears and tridents out of wooden spatulas and broom handles, as we staked out our vital territory. Vines grew up through the broken windows and curled around light fixtures, turning the ceiling into an impenetrable jungle. Drums of cannibals preparing for war could be heard in the backyard. Other tribes arrived bearing barbequed meat and fermented berry juice. Unspeakable savage rituals ensued. One in every three lives was lost. The horror. The horror.
Clearly, I jest. Dear Hubby was far more chill about all the hoopla than I was. The house was full, but it was a great treat to see everyone. Even when the noise of so many bodies in one space became too much, the restorative powers of the sand, sun and cool Pacific waters did wonders for my spirit. We had a few good field trips. The sea horses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium were a glorious hit with my little Goose. Bear dug the sharks. We spent several afternoons at Ocean Beach, Muir Beach or Baker Beach. Auntie J and I went through a plastic tub of old photographs, discussing family origins and history. All of us played Gin Rummy and Scrabble and talked smack and laughed. Once I relaxed and went with the flow of the ocean tides, I realized a house bursting at its foundations was really a wonderful thing. After all, more love is just more love and there can never be too much of that.