Friday…finally! I’m writing this on the train, and as I write the lady sitting next to me is filing her nails, and has already lotioned her hands, coughed all over the place and been a general inconsiderate passenger. I’ve sat next to her before…sometimes the filing goes on and on. She gets off at Marin Blvd. So, the other half of my ride will be very pleasant.
This week has stretched into infinity. It seems my day off will never get here. The other Access Services Manager had to leave town for a week unexpectedly and since that time three of my Circ staff have been sick, and only I and one other person have been able to rearrange our schedules to cover all the holes. This means I’m working an extra day this week.
My stomach has been hurting for over a month now, and I assumed it was just from the stress of living in a big city, working and being a mom, but it's not been letting up at all. I work on Saturday and then I get three days of, and will go to the doctor to get it checked out on Tuesday.
I guess it’s just difficult to get back into the swing of things after such a long and relaxing holiday break. We had such a wonderful time visiting family and friends in Tennessee. It was strange and kind of comforting being back in the South after being away from it for a year and a half. Things that we didn’t care much for while we were there suddenly took on great sentimental meaning, things like the Bristol Motor Speedway and Wal-Mart. We must have gone to Wal-Mart six or seven times while we were there. Even after Mr. S went to bed, T and I would steal away from the grandparents’ house and walk around Wal-Mart until late at night.
T said being back in Tennessee felt like he’d never left, like he could just keep the rental car and stay and pick back up where he left off. I thought it felt odd, not quite like home any more, but still comforting and familiar. I told him I didn’t feel like we had a home right now, and the only thing that felt like home was an evening in our living room back in Jersey with our broken down furniture, piles of books and toys around us. I can’t wait to be settled somewhere and to finally make a house and a piece of land (no matter how small) into something that’s only ours.
Our time in Tennessee was non-stop. We went from one set of relatives to another, from one group of friends to another. We visited my old library, went on a date and hung out at the Hideaway with old friends. We stayed at T’s mom and step-father’s place for the first few days and had a warm and cozy visit full of baked goods and southern cooking that I’m still dreaming about. The land around their home was still snowy and oh so quiet. Mr. S had fun playing outside and going in and out of their doggie door.
On Christmas Eve, Mamaw and Papaw Mark took us to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Lights, which was more amazing and elaborate than I realized. Seamus loved it but fell asleep right as we got to the best part…driving on the actual speedway.
At the end we woke him up and took him to the center of the track where there was a little carnival set up with funnel cakes, kettle corn, homemade pork rinds, carnival rides and a Santa Claus, whose lap you could sit on and with whom you could have your picture made.
We did all of this and stayed up way past Mr. S’s bedtime. Mr. S was so excited about Santa coming…I’ve never seen a boy so ready to sleep.
We had two Christmases: One at Mamaw and Papaw Mark’s with all of T’s siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. and lots and lots of great food.
And we had another at Grandie and Grandpa’s, which was a little quieter and lazier, and during which we got in lots of lying around and sleeping in and recharging, something we really needed.
But we also went to the Aquarium of the Smokey’s while we were visiting Grandie and Grandpa. The whole back seat fell asleep on the way to Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg is another of those things that seems to mean more to you when your away from it.
Aunt Nora and Uncle Dan showed at the Aquarium, as did my cousin April and her family. Mr. S had the biggest time looking at the sharks and sting rays and turtles and everything really. He is truly obsessed with animals. And we left with even more plastic whales and seals and walruses than we needed. It was an animal Christmas for Seamus to say the least. He got many, many new additions to his Schleich collection.
Seamus also got to spend some much needed time in nature at Grandie and Grandpa’s as well, but not as much as we’d wished. He ran through fields, walked along fallen logs, strolled through the forest, looked for coyotes and deer and birds.
One of the nicest things about visiting family for the holidays was sharing a guestroom and snuggling up for bedtime stories at night:
On the way back up to Jersey, we took our time and split the trip up into two days, staying one night at a Comfort Inn in Virginia.
The drive back home was beautiful. Passing through Virginia and Pennsylvania is such a pleasure, especially when you know that Newark is just on the other side of all that nature.
I caught Mr. S and Mr. T hiding under a tree at a rest stop in Virginia and snapped this photo. Sure to be one of our profile pics somewhere.
It was a loooong trip, and Seamus was ready to be home half way through:
Thank goodness for the books on CD Uncle Freddie gave him for Christmas. T and I now know every bit of dialogue from Quiet, the story of baby Leo Lion and his family, and have had to reenact it on numerous occasions since.
When we got back to Jersey a fresh blanket of snow had fallen and the roads were still slippery.
We took it slow and easy driving the rental car back to Jersey City. Mr. S kept begging us to keep the rental car and telling us that he would keep it very safe. He has decided that whenever we buy a car it will be a purple Nissan Altima.
And now we’re back into the rigmarole of work and school and picking up and dropping off and catching trains and lugging strollers and backpacks all over the city. Nearly three weeks has passed since we returned from our trip, and we’re ready to go back. The end of T’s program is in sight now, and we’re all getting antsy. To make matters worse, we have absolutely no idea where we’re going to be living five months from now, or what kind of jobs we will have…if we have jobs. It’s scary, and when I think about it my stomach hurts.
We miss everyone already and already it feels like ages since we've seen our friends and family, but hopefully we'll be able to make it a traditional vacation to set up shop in Tennessee for a couple of weeks every year.