Monday, May 23, 2016

A Break in Thought, This Spring

Last month was the second official trip back to Arizona since Dad died.

I didn't really know how it was going to affect me, but returning "home" a few times a year is something that I vowed to do when we made the decision to move. My kids need it, I need it. It's good for all of us to see our many family members that live there, and it's important for us to connect with our dearest friends when we return.

That doesn't mean it's easy yet. Maybe one day, but not yet.

The drive was easy. Forrest is my ace, my co-pilot. The kids (despite the inevitable fighting that ensues in close quarters for long periods of time) are actually road trip rockstars. We have the 11.5 hour trip down - streamlined. Break it up over 2 days - stay at a nice pet-friendly hotel - everyone is happy. Totally manageable. If I had a baby, it would look very different. But the kids are currently at great ages to be helpful and understand Mommy's process with the whole thing, and it's good. The kids get to watch movies, and play games in the back seat after the first stop, but until then, it's sibling togetherness while they look out the window and play with whatever toys they INSISTED on bringing with them. I get to listen to my beloved iTouch, and sing along to whatever the heck I want to, all while Forrest is sleeping on the makeshift bed I have made for him in the front seat.
We pack some healthy snacks, and find a Subway in an attempt to eat semi-healthy on the road. But what's a road trip without a junk food binge for one stretch of the drive? Quincy chooses Cheese Puffs, Paloma wants a Ring Pop, and I grab some (2 packs of) Mamba fruit chews (WAY better than Starburst) and share with the kids. On your next road trip, I highly encourage you to spread all of the individually wrapped fruit chews on your dash to warm up (soften) for 30 minutes while you drive. When you finally can't take it anymore, enjoy them one at a time, alternating flavors or mixing them up two at a time, and your road trips will forever be changed. TRUST ME.

Driving for me is therapy. But only when I am in the driver seat, listening to my jams (jam #1, jam #2, jam #3 - random sample) and the backseat is happy and calm. (If I am in the passenger seat, I am sleeping.) So at least 1/3-1/2 of each drive is therapeutic. But that's pretty good - I'll take what I can get!
It's a really weird feeling going back to a place I called home for 36 years, and not really having a place that is ours. I mean, my parents' house will always feel a little like home, but it hasn't been "mine" for over 15 years. I know my way around, sure, and we still refer to the first bedroom as "my room", but it's different. I still feel my dad everywhere in that house. Like his embrace is still there. My mom has pictures of him up everywhere, which I love, because I see him as I enter every room. But it's also funny, because my Dad (for whatever reason) never wanted family pictures up in the house. Only art. Not a lot has changed in the house since his passing, but Mom finally has family pictures up, randomly spread throughout the house, scattered between the art.

This trip back, it was important to accomplish a few things:

*Quincy wanted to see big cousin Kellan AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (this included a couple sleep-overs, and 3 little league baseball games)= ACCOMPLISHED
*Paloma wanted to see her BFF Makena AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (including a sleepover the night before her bestie's birthday, and a fabulous party complete with a snow cone truck on a rainy day, unicorns, and rainbow-inspired painting)= ACCOMPLISHED
*See my sweet friend Erin marry the love of her life, AJ = ACCOMPLISHED
*Spend one on one time with my Mom and celebrate her 69th birthday with the family = ACCOMPLISHED
*See Mimi, Papa Meredith & Gaga = ACCOMPLISHED
*Have dinner with my Mama Mimi & lunch with my Aunt Eleanor and cousin Lucy = ACCOMPLISHED
*Visit Shadow Rock Preschool so Paloma could be an honorary Unicorn for the day, and see her old friends, and so Quincy could read a book to the kids in his old classroom = ACCOMPLISHED
*Squeeze in a hug, a meal, or some playtime with some of our favorite people = ACCOMPLISHED

Needless to say, we tried to fit in as much as we could into the short time that we were there. I am grateful for the extra time I got to spend with Natan, Larel and my nephews - we are trying to maximize each visit until we see each other again - and I know the kids had a blast being reunited again. Going back to AZ is essential for filling my heart, and fueling my soul, but on the drive back I realized just how excited I was to get back to my life here in the East Bay. It felt good to have that epiphany - it assured me that I am truly enjoying this beautiful new place that we call home.


Since our return in May, I have been busy engaging my kids in the political process, educating them on the importance of this year and how elections work. Quincy learns a little about it at school as well, but since Paloma is only in school 3 days a week, she got to be Mommy's sidekick while I volunteered with the Bernie Sanders campaign to register voters at UC Berkeley's campus.
One of my greatest passions (which both my parents instilled in me) is the love of political activism and service. I truly feel invigorated when I am participating in the political process and having (open-minded, respectful) discussions with others on their views, and what is important to them. The Bay Area has such a diverse population that the political spectrum is so much wider than I am used to, and I find it fascinating. This woman I was speaking to was like the female version of my dad.
She was smart, fierce, and her passion was palpable. I told her she and my dad were like kindred spirits, and I was happy to have met her. As Paloma and I walked back to the car, I told her that Papa would have been proud of us, and she said, "But Mama, he was watching the whole time." She is a perceptive one, my Palomita.

A week later, Paloma and I drove to Stockton for the Sanders Rally - it was exhilarating to be surrounded by thousands of peaceful and passionate people coming together to listen to Bernie's ideas.

Sasa came in town for a quick visit, and we enjoyed every second!

Solon continues to work hard in his new position. I am so proud of him for the work he is doing, and the life it is providing for us. His courage and desire to take this chance, has opened up a world of opportunities for each of us - to learn and try new things - and ultimately, to grow. We have enjoyed a couple date nights over the last month, and have discovered some absolutely delectable restaurants within a mile of our house.

Life is good.

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