Home from Thanksgiving Vacation
I am sitting at the dining table sipping jasmine tea and nibbling on dark chocolate with bits of crystalized ginger in it, watching the black bamboo and the sweet orange osmanthus sway in the breeze. It is silent except for the deep thrum of the windchimes and the tap of my fingertips on the keyboard. I forgot how much I relish silence.
Ten days of travel. The joys of seeing family and friends and children. Road noise, airport announcements, beeps and flashes, the annoying endless loop of television programming.
And now, home. Silence. People say silence is golden but I think few really understand what that really means. It seems to me like so many people fear being alone with their thoughts, fear the silencing of the external noise that drowns out their internal dialogue.
And now that I am alone, I'll let my thoughts flow, unedited, from my fingertips...
The photo above is of my niece gathering up the golden leaves of the ginkgo tree. I braided some of her hair and put ginkgo leaves in it to form a crown. She looked like a princess with golden butterflies in her hair. A lovely child of four, with mossy green-brown eyes, so solemn and wide, and hair the colour of tobacco, brown and gold, with the same curls as mine. She resembles my mother in ways, particularly her mouth and chin, and she has the permanent sun-kissed tan that mom always had and which my sister's and I did not get. Lucky girl. I brought her Dr Seuss books and read to her, and she read the stories back to me, even mimicking the accents. She is so articulate, so expressive, so impossibly bright. I taught her fencing poses and lunges one day last May and she still remembered them. When she wrapped her arms around me and told me she loved me and missed me I fell in love with her all over again. My sister and her husband have done a fine job of raising her.
My nephew is a source of wonder to me. In January he will be 14. He is 5'9" already, and wearing a size 13 shoe. His hands are larger than mine, and mine are large for a woman. He is big and fleshy, poised for another spurt of growth. His nature is similar to what mine was at his age... he is very empathetic and kind, good-natured and friendly. He is popular with his peers but does not seek it. He does phenomenally in school--my sister was concerned that he was not bringing home any school work and met with his teachers, but the truth is that even with the GATE program he is hardly challenged at all. He finishes most of his homework before he leaves school for the day. I was prepared to find him at that age where teenaged boys don't want anything to do with their family--that age when they are exerting their independance and withdrawing from their family in favor of their friends. But he's not there yet, and perhaps never will become that self-isolating. For now he is thoughtful, affectionate and snuggly. I loved snuggling up to him and listening to him breathe, listening to him talk about the things that are important to him. Manga. PS2. Yugi-oh. Movies. Swimming. School.
We talked about girls. He said there are girls at school who say they are in love with him and I could tell that it confused him. "I'm too young for a relationship," he said to me with such seriousness. I always have condoms with me and I offered to leave him some but he blushed said he was fine--my sister has made some available to him but he doesn't plan to use them any time soon. I like him. Smart, articulate, brave, sure of himself in ways few teens are. He knows he is loved. My sister marinates him in it. I have faith that he will survive adolescence with his 'self' more or less intact.
As for my sisters, both are well. The one who was ill, well, she's getting better physically, but she drifts around a lot, somewhat out of sync with reality in ways that are hard to pinpoint. Some of that is being on morphine for pain, I know, but some of it is residual psychosis from advanced Beri-beri. She is existing right now... exisiting, and not in a place to care much for herself or others... she keeps falling asleep with lighted cigarettes in her hands, leaving burn-holes in carpets, blankets and clothes, freaking my other sister out. They fight over the smoking... my youngest sister fears that she is going to wake up to her house burning down. And so it goes.
Wednesday night I made yellow curry with vegetables and chicken for everyone. I decided it would be a good idea to have something completely different from what we'd be eating on Thanksgiving. Its a speciality of mine and my brother-in-law and my nephew were dubious, but find themselves enjoying it rather a lot.
Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. My sister cooked the turkey in cheesecloth, which kept it very moist. There was cornbread stuffing cooked in a muffin pan, acorn squash, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes, yams, and cranberry sauce. Dessert (much later) was pecan pie or chocolate cream pie. I had the pecan pie, of course. The best part was snuggling up with my nephew for a nap.
Friday the six of us drove up into the Sierras to Shaver Lake, which is located about half-way between Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon. We had some of the best pizza I've ever eaten and strolled around the town a bit. The kids got their photos taken with Santa and my brother-in-law snapped a photo of my sister and I clowning around at the base of the town's Christmas Tree. It is a good photo. I think I'll have it printed and send it to my sister.
During the course of writing this I've gotten several phone calls and IMs. It is good to be home and good to know I was missed. I'm ready to resume my life here in Portland, even with the spectre of 8 weeks of 10 - 12 hours days at work on the horizon. Ah well, the joys of being in the accounting field.