The baggage carousel at LAX finally spit out my bag and 15 minutes later Brenna and I found each other outside Terminal 6. Then I blinked. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I'm headed back to LAX and on to SEA. Just like that, my time here is done, and it's mind-boggling to realize it's been nearly 2 weeks since I came to visit the Redpath family.
It would be so cool if I could bottle this time here and distill the finer points:
- what it's like to watch Ella interact with her "Uncle Paul,"
- and the sound of Owen's voice when, in the middle of a spontaneous game of "you can't catch me standing still long enough to snap a full-on picture of me," I said, "I'll stop if you want me to," and he said, "No, no! I don't mind; this is fun!"
- I wish I could explain just how amazing it is to watch Bob and Brenna interact with their children - and each other - in such personal, present, loving ways,
- and how different the LA I discovered is from the stereotypes carried out from the TV and movie giants,
- and what it felt like to spend an afternoon completely naked with 3 other women I'd only recently met, in a Korean spa, and how completely surprised some of my girlfriends who've known me for more than half my life will be to hear about that particular day.
- You also need to know what it was like to dance in an art studio with a Belgian artist who was about to give me my first lesson in a technique called "touch drawing," and then to see all 15 of my new pieces laid out in a row on her studio floor,
- and how I finally really understand what homeschoolers mean when they talk about the myriad diverse ways they've found to ensure their children have plenty of opportunities for learning and socialization, and how those children thrive and astound.
- I want to tell you about how, when Rami asked me over the phone, if I'd met Lightening McQueen yet (what with our both being in California, and all!) Bob pulled up a video about the Burbank-based Bob's Big Boy and how, for more than 50 years, classic car owners bring their prize vehicles there every Friday night for an inexplicable gathering of gleaming metal and horse power. And how they took me there the next night and now I can take my nephew photos of all those bright, shiny, very cool cars.
- I wish I could let you hear the rich, Hungarian-accented voice of the older gentleman, Mike, who owns this house, when he says "good morning" and calls us ladies "gorgeous,"
- Or how thrilling it was to find exactly the small camera bag I needed for the rest of my trip in a nearby Goodwill store for $3.99, after looking All Over Greensboro for just such a find. And how in spite of my friend Cindi's best efforts to help me see the beauty in remembering to pop into second-hand stores for a peek around, it took this trip - and Brenna's unparallelled fashion sense - to make it really sink in.
I want to tell you all these stories, and so many more. Instead, I'm trying to wrap my mind around exactly what it is I want to put inside the box Ella snagged for me tonight, outside the Armenian corner store, so I can ship some of the summer-weight clothes, flipflops, and other items I won't need in Seattle, home so they'll be waiting for me when I return there.
Tomorrow I get to see Rachel and Bob, who once lived 2 houses down from me and were as accessible as walking outside my front door. And I'll meet my new friend Richard who is "Huck sitting" the new dog for Rhi, my college friend and her lovely husband, Aaron, in whose home I'll be staying without them while they're in Buffalo for Rosh HaShanah weekend, and then I'll have all my "old friends" around me in Seattle.
And maybe I'll get to have coffee with my college friend Marilouise while she's in town from Syracuse with her hubby, Mike, who's going there for a quick business trip. And soon I'll meet Jen, and Scott, and Andy, not necessarily in that order, who also feel like "old friends," but with whom my friendships have each been established and nurtured through this magical invention they call the internet, and good old telephone lines.
It's bittersweet, without a doubt. And I want to tell you all of it. I won't, possibly ever - beyond what I've written here because there's never enough time, is there, when you're making more and more stories? - but I'll tell you some of it, as soon as I get some down-time for regrouping and quiet. But not now. Now I'm going to post this and go look at travel photos taken during the past 14 months by a family who has seen more than most of us can imagine. I want to soak up every last morstle of their journey, and take a bit of it with me when I leave...