Monday, August 07, 2006

They say you can't go home again, but that isn't necessarily true. I find that my visits back to my parents tend to fall into a pattern.

First, there's the seven hour drive. I always try to get up really early so I can beat rush hour and get the better part of the drive over with before I start lagging. It seems that unless I get on the road at 4 am, however, that rush hour around here starts the second I open my garage door. This time it was six a.m. Then, no matter whether I stop to pee once or twenty times, the second I hit the PA border and see the first rest area sign my bladder cramps up and I HAVE TO pull over. I swear, it's automatic. I'm like Pavlov's dogs or something. I've been in that rest stop so many times they should engrave a plaque with my name on one of the stall doors.

Second, there's the arrival dance when I reach mom and dad's house. After the greetings--don't hug 'em too hard, they're old now--I unload the car and try to find someplace out of the way to store my stuff. It doesn't matter where I put it; the bedroom, downstairs, the moon. It's always in the way. Of course I have to pee. This can get exciting in a house with only one bathroom, three permanent occupants and five guests.

Third is the 'where the heck am I going to sleep' quandary. Usually I wind up on the couch. This time I brought a tent for me and the dog (more on this later) and there was the expected squawk from mom (You're going to sleep outside by yourself?) and the unexpected idea from dad (Hey! Maybe I'll tent out too!) and the discussion of pillows, blankets and arthritis that inevitably follows an announcement of that sort.

Fourth is the put-downs. "You're putting on weight" is my favorite, followed by "You really need a haircut that befits your age, dear." They complained when I lost twenty pounds after my divorce, then they complained again when I gained it all back. As far as the hair goes, it's a neverending battle. However this year I asked my sisters if mom and dad ever say such things to them, and the answer was "no." Gosh, how did I get so lucky?

Fifth comes the bickering, followed by eye rolling. My parents have reached an age where they don't have anything left to discuss so they argue about everything. This gets tiresome, and my sisters and I do a lot of eye rolling exercises when the bickering starts. What's even more fun is the complaining each does about the other when the other isn't around.

Sixth is badminton. We grew up in the pre-cable/video game era so we always had to entertain ourselves. In many cases this included badminton. We always have a supply of rackets, we all, always, stock up on birdies--they're actually getting hard to find nowadays--and we always fit in a game or two somewhere. We've modified our game over the years to include style points (given for the most artistic leaps and hits), swoosh points (for the best misses) and we've completely given up the net. We just stand in a circle and do a round-robin kind of thing. I think the major award this year went to my sister's boyfriend, who managed to hit himself in the face with the racket while going for a hit. Don't ask.

Among my surprises this year were tent camping with the dog--guess who laid himself right out in the middle of the air mattress?-- and having my dad decide to camp out one night with me (he's 81!!!). I alternated between facefuls of dog breath and worrying dad would drop dead on me in the middle of the night. Everything went fine, except I got no sleep and then had to drive seven hours home the next morning. But I got a heavenly reward when I sank into my own feather-top memory foam mattress last night.

Ahh.... there's no place like home.

1 Comment:

spy scribbler said...

Okay, call me crazy, but I know why badminton birdies are hard to find! (I just love it when I some random thing I read has some relevance to something else I read!) You've probably heard about it ... but just in case you haven't: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/01/flu.badminton.ap/index.html Oh, wait. You're a librarian! I bet you heard about it way before me!!!