Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Set the Wayback Machine to...2014


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." 

I read Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky in 2006 when I was doing my short, second stint in Korea.  It ends with the above quote, and even though I wasn't planning on moving home then (and haven't really been on planning on it since), I fell in love with it, because to me, it meant that "coming back" wasn't a failure or an ending...just a new chapter.

Of course, it doesn't prepare you for how hard coming back can be, and it definitely doesn't make it easier when you leave again.  The thing is that when you see people every day, they don't seem to change much, but when you come home twice a year (or less) the little differences add up.  And while you may get used to how your parents and siblings change after one year, niblings grow up quick.  The Princess (in Mongolian mode this summer thanks to Aunt Becky the Great) turns five this fall.  Five!  I have this fear that they'll forget me before I come home again, and this is probably why I've noticed that the leaving has become increasingly difficult in the last several years.  (Not that this means I'm going to stop, Mom...)
What I mean to say with all this babbling is that my "ten-years-an-expat" countdown ends tonight back where I started - in Missouri.  I was really looking forward to coming home and seeing the family, and through email we planned to come down to Shaggy's farmhouse (it has a pool in its favor!)  The only person who couldn't make it was...Gameboy (I just realized I've never given my other brother a code name!  How lame am I?!?)...who had to work, which was a bummer, but, you know what's going to win in a battle between true family togetherness and a pool.
Once your parents become grandparents, it's all over for the spinster aunts and uncles.  Nothing you do ever was or ever will be as cute as what your niblings will do.  Luckily for me, in my family the niblings are actually as cute and smart as my mom tells her Lunch Bunch buddies, and although it's kind of weird (even after five years) to watch my parents be grandparents, it's good to know they are enjoying their retirement years.
Last spring I had one of my darling juniors (now seniors!  I'm not ready to start thinking about them graduating!!!) tell me I'd make a great mom.  Since her statement was provoked by my suggestion that she use a better pair of scissors to cut the legs off her pants, I had to laugh and tell her I make a much better aunt.  Not only because my advice was somewhat dubious (maybe she shouldn't have been cutting the legs off her pants), but because I know what great moms look like.  Exhibit A:  Abby, my sister-in-law.  Sticky floors and happy children (except without the sticky floors).  Exhibit B:  My Mom - hell, she's gotta be great if she raised me!  Finally, Exhibit C:  Babysis.  My Babysis can be - how can I put it delicately?  I probably can't, so we'll leave it at, "Takes one to know one."  That said, I pity the person who messes with Bunny.  Babysis is organized and determined, and she would do anything for Bunny.  She's also a helluva cook and gorgeous - it's a good thing I'm the older sister or I might have an inferiority complex (the size of Canada's).

All that said, in spite of how hard it is to leave them, not only do I make a better aunt, I think I like it more.  You have the lack of full-time responsibility (like a grandparent) but you're young enough to have fun with your niblings (like a parent).  It's the best of both worlds...at least until I buy Dirt Devil his first bow and arrow.

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