What was my final trip of 2012? A hiking expedition in the Rockies? Battling the crowds in Times Square to watch the ball drop? A relaxing cruise to some white sandy beaches? No, something that required much more planning, strategy and thought, not to mention an unusual thrill all its own…
…I flew home to Tennessee.
Perhaps I should explain. The last time I was home was in May to help my little brother move back from MA after graduation and I could only stay for about 2 days – enough time to get caught up on laundry, have a very brief lunch with my friend B- and see as many relatives as my limited schedule would allow. Seven months later I somehow managed to get 7 whole days off from my retail job (at Christmas time no less!) to spend Christmas Eve through New Years Eve at home.
I love my family dearly and I’ve been incredibly homesick for the past month beginning around Thanksgiving, which I spent at my job, but a trip like this home is so much more complicated than some of my earlier treks. First there are the plane tickets, which, when I purchased them back at the beginning of October, I’m pretty sure made my debit card and checking account cry in pain. Secondly, the cheapest tickets I could afford weren’t Southwest, meaning no checked luggage – another in-affordable expense – so I had to figure out how to pack clothes and Christmas presents for people in an over-sized purse and duffle bag, not to mention the presents I would surely have to carry back with me.
The trickiest part, however, is the schedule, or rather, itinerary once you’re actually home. When you’re so far away for such long periods of time like me, every relative wants to spend quality time with you, you want to find time to see friends from college who are visiting their families as well, and, of course, there is the problem of people making plans for you without consulting you first – assuming you have no plans for an entire afternoon and committing you to something you would rather run from, screaming at the top of your lungs.
Thankfully, this third potential problem didn’t happen too often this particular trip, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s happened before and I’m sure will happen again some time during future visits.
My trip was actually incredibly relaxing this time around. My brother I, his girlfriend B-, my grandmother and her co-worker S- spent Christmas Eve and Day at our house and on the 25th my aunt, uncle, cousins and other grandparents came for lunch, as well as a friend of my dad’s from work. While my Aunt K- and my mom cooked delicious dishes like cornbread dressing and sweet potatoes, my cousin L- took family pictures of all of us, some of which I really love (*not a comment on her photography, but rather more of a statement about my general dislike of being photographed and tendency to avoid the camera lens at all possible cause*), and afterwards, I-, B- and I caught a showing of Les Miserables (Incredible!!).
The 26th B- had to fly back home for work and then I-, mom and I went shopping with Christmas money and gift cards. I- got a new computer for Christmas and we have no internet at our house, so we sought free Wi-Fi at Barnes & Noble so he could try out his new toy. The 27th consisted of a trip to my aunt and uncle’s hardware store where I had worked for 6 years through high school and college and then to my mom’s Jazzercise class. My legs are still sore, which re-emphasizes the need for one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
The big trip this time around was two-fold. First, my mom and I drove to my cousin L-‘s new apartment and spent about 13 hours painting it in preparation for her coming semester at school. The thing was massive! Two large bedrooms, decent-sized bathroom and a huge kitchen/living room area. The doors and cabinets are an atrocious color and she has practically no counter space, but otherwise it put my little apartment to shame! The next day we drove up to my grandparents house. I visited with them (and took an embarrassingly long nap) while my mom baked and then went to a sort of band reunion. Not exciting in the same way as Zion or the Grand Canyon, but I haven’t spent quality time with my cousin in years and my grandparents live in the same town where I went to college – I used to my laundry at their house every Sunday afternoon – so it was like going home for a second time. Plus, I’ve missed my mom and we had fun in the car, talking about the smallest things of absolutely no consequence and making constant fun of the radio DJs.
The last day and a half was spent doing laundry, packing and saying goodbyes. As I predicted, not everything fit in my two carry-ons, so I now have a pile of things on my dresser back at home waiting until I move who-knows-where after graduation in May and my bags are so densely packed they feel like they’re full of concrete.
I enjoyed my visit home, but I’m also glad to be heading back to the Southwest. Time to get back to my grown-up life I suppose.
*Note: This was written at an airport in Chicago on New Year’s Eve but posted the day afterwards because I refuse to purchase a subscription to airport internet when I only fly about twice a year*
**Also, there are actually 9 Christmas trees in my parents’ house, but I don’t have photos of the two downstairs and one upstairs for some reason**