I ran into an acquaintance the other day while the kids and I were out on some errands. She knew that we had been in South America for the summer and asked how long we had been back home. I had to think for a long time then do the math in my head. I could not believe when I told her that it had only been about two weeks. Two weeks! It feels more like two years.
When we got off the plane from our vacation in Panama we immediately knew we were back home: After two months of struggling to communicate we were finally able to understand every word that was written and spoken including the casual chattiness of the guy who stamped our passports. It was almost funny when he told me that I should “do the right thing” and ditch my hyphenated last name in favor of my husband’s, then fist bumped Sean. Welcome to New York!
(Apparently the new passport scanning machines do not like hyphenated last names and I will now be forever flagged as one of those dangerous and indecisive people who couldn’t pick between taking her husband’s last name or keeping her own. Add that to the list of problems I already encounter in the hyphen-hating travel industry and I am ready to just go by my first name. Note that I further complicated my life by using my hyphenated name only on official documents but introduce myself as Nina Hayes. And when I was working as a journalist my byline included both of my last names but no hyphen. On second thought maybe I should be flagged by passport control, I have no idea who I am!)
After collecting our many, heavy pieces of luggage we drove home yearning for pizza (nothing was open) and stumbled, tired into the house. It seemed so big that we wondered if it had grown during our absence. Then, the next morning…and practically every morning, day and night since then we have been busy. Busy unpacking the contents of the last two months and restocking the house, opening mail and paying bills. Busy seeing family and friends and preparing for my brother’s wedding. Busy setting up the house for guests and entertaining. Busy checking out what had changed in town and who had moved in. Busy getting ready for back-to-school and back-to-work. It’s no wonder that I was surprised to discover that we really haven’t been home for that long when we have hardly had a moment to breathe.
But, is it possible to be busy yet bored? It must be because I am in the throes of it. The kids are happy to be home and Sean is already back in South America (with the promise of many more visits) so for right now it’s just me feeling less than thrilled to be here. I knew that there was going to be some let down after spending so much time away from home but I thought it would happen gradually, not immediately. I am one of those people who almost always thinks it’s better and more exciting to be away from home than to be at home. (Yet I am also quite a homebody. Go figure.) While living in Peru the weight of our many family obligations, unfulfilled home improvement projects and the routine of running a household of busy people was lifted. But there is more to it than just a break from our normal life. For me, there is a certain freedom in being away from the place that I was born, raised and now live. Yet, for now I am here, back at home trying to fight the feeling that I want to be somewhere else.
Today is the kids first day of school. Even though it’s been a long time since I had a first day of school it still feels like an opportunity for a fresh start, the proverbial blank page. So, I thought it was the perfect day to return to the blog and see where it takes me and what kind of excitement I can find for myself, and my family right here at home.
And, coincidentally or perhaps serendipitously I received a package in the mail today from my cousin Anu: a small notebook.
(She knows me well, that cousin of mine! The image on the notebook and in the poster in the background is one of my favorites: a 1950’s advertisement for the Finnish soda brand Jaffa.)