Thursday, June 21, 2007

What I Did On My Vacation, By Betty, Age 35

So, the family reunion thingy actually turned out to be quite pleasant. The state park where it was held was a really nice place, there were insane amounts of food, and I got to catch up with people I hadn't seen, in some cases, for many, many years. And, man, there's something about encountering a whole group of people that you grew up with after that kind of a time lapse that leaves you with a profound sense of, I don't know, the passing of time, the progression of human generations, that sort of thing. Many of my grandmother's generation are gone and were only present in memories and photographs. My mother's generation is visibly growing old, however gracefully. My younger cousins have morphed into adults, some of them bearing an eerie resemblance to my childhood memories of their parents. And there's a whole new generation of small children who don't yet look like much of anybody. This is simply what happens, of course, and there's nothing surprising in it. When it happens around you, you barely even notice, but when you come back to see that it's happened while you weren't looking, it's kind of a shock. Not in a bad way, necessarily. It's just odd.

Anyway, what else? Well, I did visit the historic section of Philadelphia with my mother and grandmother, which is something I almost never did while I lived in the area. I can thus report from personal experience that the Liberty Bell does, indeed, still have a huge-ass crack.

So, that was all cool, although I do have to say that I really should have left a day or so earlier than I did... Anti-social introvert that I am, when I'm around a lot of people -- especially really talkative people -- for long enough, I start to get over-sensitive and irritable. Contemplating the plane flight back really didn't help, either. I hate air travel. I'm not a nervous flier or anything, I just find it incredibly tedious and draining, and the older I get the more cramped and claustrophobic those tiny little airplane seats make me feel. The only thing to be said for it is that at least it's better than driving... Which, given that I also have an hour's drive to and from the airport, doesn't actually make me feel any better. Anyway, all that adds up to, I think, me not being terribly good company on Tuesday.

But eventually I got home, much to the relief of my cats. Well, actually, at first they seemed pretty freaked out, like they weren't quite sure I was really me. And then once they decided I wasn't some sort of evil imposter, they all seemed determined to keep a constant eye on me for several hours, presumably fearing that I was about to up and leave again. When I failed to do that, Vir-kitty proceeded to make a pretty good attempt at cuddling me for twelve hours straight. Awww.

By the way, for anyone who's actually interested, I did get a little time to read while I was there, as well as a lot of time on the plane and in various airports, so the only books I didn't get to were Bad Astronomy and The World According to Garp. Although I haven't finished White Night yet.

One random observation: I am coming to the conclusion that, despite conventional wisdom, sometimes it is the heat and not the humidity. While I was back East, everybody was complaining about how hot and muggy it was, especially my mother, who currently lives in an even drier climate than I do. But, you know, it honestly didn't really seem particularly hot to me at all. (I think it maybe got up into the low nineties.) And the humidity was only mildly uncomfortable. In fact, it actually felt kind of pleasant to be breathing air with a bit of moisture to it, even if it was disconcerting to have to spend several minutes toweling off after a shower. In contrast, as soon as I walked out of the airport in Albuquerque, I felt like I'd stepped into a blast furnace, and in the few minutes it took me to get my luggage unloaded from the airport shuttle and to get into my car, my forearms, taken by surprise after a week spent under a muffling blanket of clouds, burned themselves pink. It's odd, though, because the humidity used to really bother me, back when I lived there. Maybe the effect is offset by the amount of extra oxygen I'm getting at sea level, I don't know.

Actually, here's another random observation: My family is incredibly unimaginative when it comes to names. I've never had the experience of having three Bettys in the same place before, and it was damned confusing. I kept whipping around to answer people, only to realize they weren't talking to me at all. I have no idea how people with really common names manage.

Right. That's enough rambling. Time to go finish washing that suitcase full of dirty clothes I came back with.

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