my monkied brain (katekat1010) wrote,
my monkied brain

the nameless evil returns!

ok, not really, I have a name.  But I am back!  And my post-holiday-holiday was lovely.

To the flist:  I'm terribly sorry - there was no internet access worth mentioning on the trip, I am at skip 800 with filters turned on, and am already burned out.  If something wonderful!/exciting!/tragic! happed or you have any fic recs or graphic recs or anything, please drop me a comment and point the way.  At this point I'm starting from scratch tonight (and of course, reading avidly!)

To kaffee_spinne, uberaeryn, and psychoadept: HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY!

and now, for those of you truly curious about my week in California...

It's cheaper to fly from Wednesday to Wednesday, so I did it.  I had the time, so I did it.  I missed my families at Christmas, so I did it.  But flying from Austin to California isn't exactly my idea of a good time.  Luckily, the promise of my dad picking me up at the airport (probably with a goofy kind of harrumph in his voice that it's taken me years to understand is a sound of love) was enough of an incentive.

You know the kind of drunk who's jolly, but who seems so hearty you know they can turn on you at a moment's notice?  That's the kind of man who sat next to me on the second leg of the flight.  I tried to be good and practice my Japanese (that did actually last for an hour or two).  Eventually I switched to Firefly to escape the hearty and incredibly earnest nonsense from the mostly comprehensible and (unsurprisingly) conservative guy, hoping he wouldn't decide I was being insulting by putting my headphones in.  Not only did he not take offense, he kept asking me which boys I was hot for (and I wasn't about to tell him I like the girls as much as the boys, but it did make it a bit hard to answer) until finally he fell asleep.  Or passed out.  Or whatever.

My father drives as if the clutch is going to drop out of his car at any second and he has to catch up with it.  Or maybe he's being chased by it?  Regardless, he defies freeway ramps and turn lanes, turning into them at the last moment to ensure they can't get their claws into him.  It makes for a heart thumping ride, better than turbulence, because at least in this vehicle I can smoke.  I think I surprised him with that, but I'm well and truly addicted and wasn't going to be shy just because his cigarettes smell worse than my cloves.  Near the house I glanced over, and saw the entire street reflected in the smudges on his glasses, and reminded him that yes, glasses need cleaning too.

I was greeted first by the most loveable dog in the universe, her tail twitching and thumping, taking her entire body for a squirmy ride.  Maggie's the sweetest ugly dog - part pitt bull, part something else, with the disposition of a kitten's and so much love!  Then there appeared my stepmom, Judy, the white-haired woman in a wheelchair right now because she broke her hip and she has to keep weight off of it until it heels, who hugged me with a laugh and her usual slightly querulous 'hello'.  My niece-little sister-type-person Francesca, coltish, wide-eyed, tall and a hair's breath away from being gorgeous, hugged me with swimmer-strong arms and then bounced away. 

For three days Judy and I talked about every thing and nothing - houses, planting, politics, children.  We didn't really run out of anything to say.  Dad and Francesca came in and out, busy with school and work, homework and dinner prep, and Judy and I stayed mostly fixed to the kitchen table.  I drank cup after cup of coffee to loosen my tongue and to have something in my hands while I talked. 

Friday night was girl's night - two girls (one teenaged and one many years older) and three movies.   I infected another person with Serenity.  Sci fi is always fun.  My dad's rental Kingdom of Heaven bored us both to tears.  It forced us to poke fun at the gaping plot holes and bemoan the annoying  character choices.  Even the cuteness of Orlando didn't smooth over all of that unpleasantness for my watching companion (and you know how much the teenaged heart can forgive a pretty face).  Finally we threw Beauty Shop in just to make us smile.  And yes, I know, I'm saying this about a movie that is so hackneyed you could probably look at one picture and tell me the story, but occasionally I LIKE cheesy movies, and this one was definitely required.

They descended on us on Saturday, a grandma, an aunt and uncle, and one of my sisters, but it was welcome company.  Grandma is cute but more gaunt than she used to be, and my sister was good until she had a sugar crash and had to be force fed fig newtons and milk until she started talking instead of staring at space and not responding to anyone - I think she scared us all a bit. After we settled down, we blathered on about houses and politics and managed to gobble down a family dinner and forget the apple pie.  It was exactly the kind of family evening I thought we might do, although with a smaller number of people than I expected.  Then again getting us all together in one room (sisters, their husbands, their kids and grandmas) takes a lot of energy and a great deal of effort and having my stepmom have to deal with them all at the same time is just too much at the moment.

15 years ago, my dad drove me from Sacramento to Moke Hill every other Sunday.  We reprised our roles as "father with car" and "daughter without" on Sunday.  Prairie Home Companion still plays on public radio, and my dad still remembers the right turns to take to get me to my Mom's house.  The trip is shorter because she lives one town closer, and there are more houses on the route (they're building designer homes across the street from the Ione prison - who knew that was high demand real estate?) but for most of the miles, the landscape hasn't really changed.  It's still green grass with a winter coat of hay colored chaff on top, the trees are mostly green because they're pine and live oak, the sky was beautiful and cloud swept, and there were horses and cows and sheep, oh my!  It's truly beautiful countryside, even if I have seen it more times than I can count.  I couldn't keep a small grin off my face from time to time, though, just to see so many hillocks, or turns in the road, that used to be so familiar to my eye.

If ever there was a modern Victorian spirit, my mother would be the one who captured it.  Her apartment is filled, with every corner used and all the tables filled - not disorderly or random though, but quite precisely placed.  She has lovely china tea cups with saucers that we actually used, beautiful artwork on her walls that she's painted, and a porch filled with slumbering plants who wait for spring and her caring hand to make them grow wild and huge again.  We sat and talked inside, with the TV flickering on mute, then stepped outside to smoke and talk some more.  I'm blessed that she's cut back her practice and didn't have to work every day, so we could walk around downtown Jackson together, poking our heads into shops new and old, and restraining ourselves in the used bookstore to only what I could carry in a single hand.  For us, that's GOOD.  We made scrumptious dinners and traded books, Sunday through Tuesday night (except I snuck in a viewing of Serenity for her too).

Finally I had one of those computer moments where I knew what was going on and got to teach it to someone else!  It's too bad I'm not terribly patient, but perhaps that will come with time?  Either that or me teaching computers is entirely different than me teaching literature (ha, yeah. i think that might be the case).  Suffice it to say I helped Mom straighten out her email and set up templates, create folders and determine that out of her 3 printers, only two were going to work.

I woke up that last morning sad to go but with a crick in my neck from sleeping on the couch for three nights that told me I'd be blissful to get back to my bed.  And more than my bed, back to my beloved and my kitten (and our house).

So Mom and I had our coffee and our last cigarettes on the porch, and some how her house is never unfamiliar to me, just as she will always be someone I am comfortable with on some cellular level, it seems.  Maybe it's just because it's the two of us, but there was none of that terror that I had in November when she came to visit - or maybe it's that I'm on her turf, she's not on mine.  Because I know her ways as if they were my own and merge with them without too much of a fuss.  We lunched on french dip and house soup on the drive to the airport, giggling with each other about what comes next and what to plant in my new garden this spring.

The flight home was seemed interminable, but I watched a move and read a book, and finally, after a stop in San Diego and another in Phoenix (neither of which required that I get off the plane) I was HOME.  A handsome man picked me up from the airport, bought me dinner, drove me home and helped me in and cuddled with me on the couch after.

It was a good journey.


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