Monday, December 24, 2012

Walking the old neighborhoods and hiding school pics

I'm drinking green tea as my mother makes a quiche for her neighbor. In the two days I've been here, she has also made or purchased ingredients to make a lemon cake for family, a turtle brownie cake for a coworker, molasses and peanut butter cookies for us, an exquisite salmon dinner and sides for me last night, and homemade chicken noodle soup for lunches and snacks. She is in pain. Mom is scheduled for surgery for her foot. It hurts her to walk. She needs to be relaxing, and my sister is yelling at her about this, but this is my mom. She wants to cook and bake and fuss. My husband laughs as he tells stories. I am saying I'll be off the computer in a second. I am a little too cold but otherwise just right. We're home.

We're tired. We've visited family and a few friends who were able to meet us at this busy time. We've visited Brutus Buckeye and a few landmarks from our childhood to see how they've changed. Columbus is so flat and quiet and lovely. The homes here are quaint and eclectic, and the air is cleaner here than in San Antonio. This, the capital city, has undergone quite a bit of revitalization in the last few years, especially in the areas around campus and the neighborhoods I grew up and lived in. I ran these streets this morning, and I became thankful that I am not still that younger me. That these streets are not now how I remember them. Things are supposed to change sometimes.

Glen Echo Park, the site of a beautiful ravine that was known to me as a kid as little more than a short trail, some water, and a few quiet, graffiti-covered tunnels that were perfect for bad-ass kids like myself to hideout in and smoke and drink. Thanks to the revitalization, the park is now graffiti and bad-ass kid free. Artists have painted the birds of Ohio in one of the notorious tunnels. My husband and I walked in sub-thirty degree weather (we are now Texans and barely able to stand it) and reminisced fondly of the lesser park we remembered. We thawed out only to drive to another path along the Olentangy River.

Columbus is dusted with snow right now. I have continuously nudged Mom's heat up to seventy-two degrees. She has consistently nudged it back down to seventy. This will continue.

We visited my husband's immediate family last night, which is bigger than my own and filled with kids. We are not versed in buying kids gifts. Case in point: for the three-year old nephew, we were excited to find a truck that he could put together himself with giant plastic screws. When he opened it; however, our excitement was met with a three-year old frown, followed by a wary thanks and a confused look. He turned to his mother and said, "Broken truck?!" Even after we got the tires on that bad boy, our nephew still referenced his new toy as his broken truck, despite the fact that he could now push it around like his others. My husband's sister was gracious enough to host the evening, and lucky, lucky me: she pulled out the childhood pictures. My husband cringed; I clapped and laughed and asked to keep a few.

The tables will likely be turned tonight, when my sister comes over and we have Christmas Eve egg white quiches. I will help to clean my mother's house, and I will tell her to relax. She will insist on making our meals without help and I will insist she not. We will play Scrabble (again) and argue over words (reiron is NOT a word!) and laugh, and the pictures will probably come out. My husband will grab at images of me from the early nineties with diagonally-designed blue backgrounds to offset my unruly red hair and hexagon-shaped plastic glasses. I will graciously add them to the pile we collected last night. Likely we will take a few more walks around the old neighborhoods and we will savor the beauty as we know our time here is limited. I'm so grateful that I'm home to celebrate. The holidays are for family now, for going home and for appreciating what we have; and in our case, they are also for yelling at each other, laughing, hitting and missing with the present picks, and making fun of old pictures.

There have been less ideal holiday seasons in my past. Having those tough seasons, however, only makes me appreciate times like this all the more. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sneak the heat up again.

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