I am back from a California vacation with D. and our two youngest boys. I am now floating in the pool of jet lag and physical misery, even as I am so very grateful to be reunited with my older son, my bed and bathroom!!
Vacations are always bittersweet as they are full of parting, meeting, and parting again. This was especially true of this trip, which we made because my sisters and I could all be in the same place in the world again after a decade. That was surely something to fly for! I had wanted both my children there as well, so that they could enjoy their cousins, but my teenager is on an international school schedule, so it simply wasn’t to be. In the end, I had to live with missing him while enjoying the time with my younger child. We chatted enough (technology makes parting just a tad kinder), but it would have been so different if I had them both with me. But such is life and we all do what we can. We enjoyed all the family time immensely, though I felt his absence keenly. Still, it was such a gift to experience my nephews and niece together with D. and our sons. We are a different family each time, evolving through the years, adding layer upon layer of love among us.
My sisters and I tried to see each other as much as we could, given that one worked daily and the other was in California doing the tour of universities for her son. We met for meals and managed to set aside one special day to hike together and enjoy the magnificent scenery around us!
This vacation was all about staying in one place. We landed, unpacked and nested. That’s the way I like to travel. Some people like to make the most of vacations by moving around and seeing as much as they can, cramming every single day with places and people to see. (I fall into that every so often, too.) But because we had our children and family around us,we didn’t do that so much this time. We rented a house with a spectacular ocean view, where all we needed to do was walk to appreciate the vastness of the sea and sky. This has been D.’s and my go-to special place in California, and it was very special sharing it with our two youngest boys for a good stretch of time.
We enjoyed building a fire every morning and waiting for them to come up from their bedroom. We made breakfast together, cleaned-up, lingered and planned our days. The boys would have been happy just staying home everyday, so we made sure we had enough of that as well. We folded laundry together and took turns vacuuming and cleaning. We went to our favorite community grocery and enjoyed organic goodies (oh, to be able to eat apples everyday, peel and all!). We played games in the car and missed exits because of it. We laughed a lot. We weren’t packing and rushing through airports. We made a home for ourselves, got to know the neighborhood, saw family and friends, took some special trips, planned a few activities the boys asked for, breathed in and out. And that was really good.
We saw dear friends, of course, and the kids had their own special reunion with a beloved former classmate. They had such a great time together, and so did we. In true Pinoy fashion, Beth came to us armed with supplies that were missing from our rental, from a rice cooker to a blender, pots and pans, she had us more than covered. Then her hubby, Joey, made us a meal everyone enjoyed a little too much. Oink. We spent time with Frank, another dear friend. We saw him at his place of work at first and then privately, where he introduced us to a great restaurant in our neighborhood with such delicious food. Yes, I ate gluten. It was worth it. Double oink.
Before long the partings began. My brother-in-law left first, then my sister, then my nephew. They went back to the UK. And just like that, it was our turn. Time behaves differently when one is away from home. It is fast and slow at the same time. It was my turn to say goodbye to my little one, who stayed behind with his dad. We made the most of our time together, had a nice lunch at one of our favorite places and then began the journey home.
Slow vacations are good for the heart. When you make a little nest for yourself in another part of the world and tread calmly, you take in more fully and the experience becomes more than a blurred memory that fades too quickly. Somehow you feel you have given and received well. Then you know it is time to come home, leaving nothing and everything behind.
**thanks, D., for the great photos as usual and for everything else.