The kids anticipate their Dad's visit as the highlight of the summer. Because he works in Pakistan, his visits are particularly cherished. He arrives with scarved dolls, jeweled purses, and woolen hats for the boys, that still smell of coal, the smell I remember from the villages in China. The kids run out to him as his car pulls in next to our van, and it seems like he is not in the door before the stories begin, and the pictures come out, and everyone is gathered around listening to adventures abroad.
I anticipate the visit as well. He comes to stay with the ten. I clean and organize and try to imagine temporarily relinquishing my home, and my obsessions... returning cushions to sofas, shoes to closets, sweeping the front porch, keeping the washer churning and the dryer spinning, and tracking down those guilty of leaving the peanut butter open for the flies. I have a fantasy, because this is the boring type of thing that I dream of, that everything will be in order, I will leave with nothing undone, and somehow, because of my excellent and diligent preparation, I will be worthy, like Cinderella, of starting some new chapter, some new two week adventure of my own. I view the time as if something really different will happen, but usually find myself immediately longing to return to my own home, hugs from my children, needs, arguments, laughter, laundry, shoes, diapers, routine. Meanwhile I dread the next transition...their saying good bye to Dad again, until the future visit, but anticipate that almost exuberant moment,when like a child who's just realized she can peddle on her own and takes off riding, we realize we will be okay too.
That said, here I am at Grandad and Judith's just down the street, what I call comfortable exile, close enough to catch an occasional glimpse of little William, swaggering around the yard like the big man on campus with the neighborhood girls. Monday, Week one, I sat down in Granddad's and Judith's kitchen and started to plan some kind of travel. Grandad suggested we drive to California together, and so it was decided.
Thursday morning we left. I love my Dad's respect for tradition.
Here was our breakfast at one of his favorite stops along the way, The Garden of Eatin' in Fillmore, Utah. Not sure I would recommend it based on the price, or the cuisine, but the definitely would it for the sayin'- you-did.
I was grateful for a day of driving with Dad. Talking, eating, indoctrinating, political of course--liberal Mormon rhetoric. I told him I thought he should go on CNN. In the evening we arrived at the home of my
step-sister Jennifer, near Irvine. It was great to her and her family. We went out to dinner together at The Soup Plantation. And in the morning, before we said goodbye, another breakfast adventure, The Snooty Fox.
Our plan was to drive through Long Beach on our way north where I would meet my good friend Amy in Ventura. My dad grew up in Long Beach and we visited his mother there, in his boyhood home, many times when I was a child. I had a desire, lately, to return there to pay respects to memories, retrace, solidify, acknowledge.
We parked in front of Nana's home and talked about how much it had changed. I jumped up and down to get a look over the fence at the most amazing lemon tree of my memories. It had grown so tall. We walked to Heartwell Park, that was almost as I remembered it. The rocket ship had been replaced with new fashioned play equipment, as I had expected.
St. Luke's where Granddad sang in the boys' choir.
Next downtown Long Beach; homage to Acres of Books and a few places special to Granddad. I think we made Nana happy. Then we were headed North.