Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trip to fulfillment

At some point over the last week a terrible knot finally unraveled inside me and I became a woman who could smile, laugh and enjoy life again...and so did the rest of the family:

If you can laugh at yourself and have a good time, you can take your kids on a duck tour they'll talk about for the rest of the trip...and even quack along the way.

When the weather is fine, you can run alongside a pond racing swans and then stop to admire them...or try to see how it is that they poop and pee (if you're under 6).

Everything that goes up is for climbing, especially trees.

Oh yes we did, you know it baby! Wicked good cannolis. It was here---at Mike's, sitting crammed next to other tiny tables---that we had a great conversation with another couple, some grandparents, and I realized one of the things I miss so much about MA is how much people there like kids. People aren't rolling their eyes in aggravation, "Oh here comes kids," like they are a fatal, communicable disease, or sighing resignedly. They aren't making snotty comments, or casting judgemental looks our way, as in, "Can't you keep those kids from being, well, such kids?" They're smiling indulgently, or even joyfully and enjoyingly, sometimes even remarking happily.

And moms, nursing, in public! You, at the park, the museum, the restaurant, anywhere and go, girl!

I also realized how much I missed the friendliness of close quarters. When in the city, in small spaces, you don't tend to ignore one another. I met some of the greatest people across the five inches between tables in Boston and Cambridge restaurants.

On a vacation, when you're having fun, you just might meet a new person by backing into him as you each snap a ridiculous amount of photos trying to capture Fanueil and Quincy at night. On vacation, when you're having fun, this new person might offer to take a photo of your family. On vacation, when you're having fun, you don't have to take anything seriously.

Regardless of relaxed protocol on vacation, one must always dress for the occasion. And pose with creatures one fell in love with while there.

Be the bee, no, be the bee queen.

Monkeys found their place on Boston Common. We never actually lived in Boston proper. Jon worked there, but I never did. We spent a lot of time in the city, though. I had forgotten how much black everyone wears, and how it makes the city look so coordinated. I had also forgotten how young people in the city are on the whole. I had not forgotten how many families there are. We got to see a playgroup in action at the playground.

One word: WTF?

I knew I had monkeys, but a mountain goat...that was a happy surprise. We went back to the White Mountains, a place we had been many times before for hiking, eating, enjoying, shopping, horse events, and so forth, and loved mucho. I mean, geez louise, it's the White Mountains, what's not to love?

If you ask the kids, they'll say this was the trip highlight, and I bet you wouldn't be surprised. If you asked us, we might say the same thing, and then you could color all of us surprised. Storyland. Geez. But yeah, we cut loose and rode every single solitary ride, yelled all the magic words, fixed the butterflies, ate caramel and candied apples, with jimmies on them (geez), and made ourselves sick on the spinning turtles. It was fun. I know, I had fun at a theme park.

Everyone always asks, "Do you miss the seasons?" I'm sorry, that's like asking, "Do you miss breathing?" DUH, do I miss the seasons. YES, YES I MISS THE SEASONS!

Broke into the old apartment
This is where we used to live
Broken glass, broke and hungry
Broken hearts and broken bones
This is where we used to live


I know we don't live here anymore
We bought an old house on the Danforth
She loves me and her body keeps me warm
I'm happy here
But this is where we used to live

You know, this song nails it.

Yeah, nothing was perfect, nothing ever is, but we had some really key life years there, in MA. We had some great times, yeah, some tough ones too, that's life. It was a real time, a growing time, an evolving time. As my husband put it, the first five years were like one extended holiday. No kids, plenty of time and money, and we traveled all over New England---and the world.

We lived it to the fullest...made the most of it. I think that is the main point, you know? We were in a place we loved, I mean loved, and we made the most of it. I promise you, we got more out of New England, saw more of it, did more, in the years we lived there than some people who spend a lifetime there do. Plus, it's where we grew up, turned from young adults into grown-ups, had our kids. That's intensity, you know? Big emotional memories.

And it's always easier to look back fondly, especially on a time that had so much good in it.

However, I felt surprisingly unsentimental about this beach, our private town beach. I think most of our best memories were on Singing Beach, where we spent more time. I felt surprisingly unsentimental about our little town, in fact, and our old house, all of which we visited. Our little town had changed so much, anyway, even before we moved. It had turned into something that was no longer us, which is one of the reasons, I think, we began thinking about leaving it. I felt more sentimental about the bigger town, Beverly, and was surprised by the rush of sentimentality I felt for Salem and Marblehead. With time and distance, I realized that during our last years in MA, our best times were in these places, instead.

In a way, this trip provided some closure. Also, clarity.

But as we got to the airport to return, neither of us could bring ourselves to say "going home." We kept saying, "back to Houston."

What I hope is that we find our place, somehow, whether it's here, there or anywhere. A place that isn't an extended good time holiday, or a perfect family location, on paper. A place that feels like home.

So, we're back. Here, where we live. And we're feeling fine because we just had a great vacation, where we enjoyed ourselves, to the fullest.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
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Kyla said...

Oh Julie! I am thrilled that you had a wonderful, relaxing time. Beautiful photos. Beautiful girls. It makes me smile to know that it brought back your smiles and laughter.

Magpie said...

Welcome back - it sounds like it was a lovely trip.

kim said...

I'm glad you had such a great time. I'm sorry that you haven't found "home" yet. While I have a definite love/hate relationship with the city I live in, it does feel like home.

Mayberry said...

Welcome back! Such great photos; and everything is better with a little Bare Naked Ladies.

Lawyer Mama said...

Great photos! It sounds like a wonderful and much needed vacation.

So glad you're back!

slouching mom said...

I can't tell you how happy this makes me. All of it. To know that you, who needed a break so very badly, got a break, and better than that, had a wonderful time.

And, I so loved seeing all these pictures of your beautiful family!

thailandchani said...

The pictures were great.. and I'm glad to know you had some time of relaxation. :)



Marie said...

You went to STORYLAND?? I took my two little boys there this year, in early June! It's fun that you were visiting New England, where I live!

Kellan Rhodes said...

What a wonderful trip - what wonderful pictures. Your kids are beautiful (as are you). Thanks for sharing your special vacation with us - I enjoyed it.

Tere said...

I love, love, love these pictures!!

Cathy said...

Beautiful — the kids, you guys, the trees, all of it.

Sounds like a wonderful time.

And yes, your sister most definitely should get a blog. I enjoyed her posts tremendously!

Gwen said...

Welcome back! Looks like you all had a gawgeus time. Lovely to see pictures of the whole family, too. Thanks for sharing all of it with us!

Emily said...

Welcome back. We missed you, however Leslie did a great job keeping the dust from settling. She's a hoot.

I will try to get on the Hmmm and maybe post it tomorrow...hope that's not too late.

I loved the pics of all the fall colors....understandable that knots would loosen and smiles would remember.

Jeff said...

"Wicked good cannolis."

I love it! Just a few minutes in Boston and you're talking like a native all over again.

Sounds like you had fun. Naturally I'm jealous...

Aliki2006 said...

Welcome back!!!!

ewe are here said...

Singing beach?! Gaw! My parents come from Gloucester and Magnolia; I'm related to an entire street in Rockport; cousins in Marblehead, Essex . . .

A second home of sorts.

flutter said...

that sounds like fun!

Sober Briquette said...

It looks like you had a really wonderful time.

You even make me want to try Storyland. The White Mountains are so fabulous, I'm glad you saw some color. It's been 5 years since I last drove the Kancamagus. Which is rather pathetic for a New Englander.

Welcome Back!

painted maypole said...

Welcome home! Glad you had a great vacation. And that BNL song! Take me right back to one of my college apartments, where my roommates played the BNL CDs so much that I HATED them, and then found that I missed them when i lived with another friend the next year.

Christine said...

it is so wonderful to hear that you and a great time. really, really wonderful.

i love that picture in the white mountains--WOW!

Bon said...

now i want to go to Storyland. and Boston. mostly Boston.

and - whilst i am a dense Canadian who doesn't even have subways in her fair hamlet of a town - i, erm, got a laugh out of the Charlie card. do you know the old song (maybe Pete Seeger? or Kingston Trio?) about poor old Charlie who gets stuck on the MTA in Boston and can never get off because he doesn't have the nickel for the fare? (or is it a quarter?) his wife slips him sandwiches through the subway window but never the money to get off...

Bon said...

now i want to go to Storyland. and Boston. mostly Boston.

and - whilst i am a dense Canadian who doesn't even have subways in her fair hamlet of a town - i, erm, got a laugh out of the Charlie card. do you know the old song (maybe Pete Seeger? or Kingston Trio?) about poor old Charlie who gets stuck on the MTA in Boston and can never get off because he doesn't have the nickel for the fare? (or is it a quarter?) his wife slips him sandwiches through the subway window but never the money to get off...

Bon said...

my firgin' computer! sorry for the double post.

Mad Hatter said...

Welcome back to the 'sphere if not back "home." I loved looking at these pictures, Julie and imagining you on your story-book adventure.

b*babbler said...

It looks like an amazing family vacation. One that the girls will have memories of for years and years.

And excellent use of the Barenaked Ladies!