My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Sisterly Love- the joys and frustrations of sibling togetherness

At our best

At our best

It happens every time now. My sister and I get together and there is just not enough space to accommodate our respective kingdoms of power. We both get used to doing things our way, to having our subjects jump to do our bidding, and, most importantly, to have our own sacred space in which to conduct state business. I undoubtedly expected some conflict this Christmas, but I did not expect it to happen as soon as it did- the second we stepped through the door of my parents’ house. I was dirty from traveling 16 hours and, per habit, wanted to take a shower before going to bed. She was dead tired and equally grumpy that I would dare to shower before going to bed in the room that we must share. I wanted to turn on a fan for some ambient noise to camouflage my creeping-to-bed footsteps. She was freezing cold.

I think we both cried ourselves to sleep with the frustration of it all. Evidently, my dear sister did not sleep well because the next morning she was still furious with me, and as it’s not the sort of treatment I’m accustomed to upon waking, I ended up in tears again. This time I was only glad that my guy was there for comfort. He’s really good at drying my tears. Thus began our vacation.

My sibling and I could no doubt work out our differences if we: a) had more sympathy for the other’s point of view, b) could talk about it without the situation escalating, or c) had similar ideas about manners and modes of behavior. Since neither a nor b nor c seemed to be true this Christmas, our fights went virtually unresolved for days. I admit to tiptoeing around her the majority of the time, fearing her wrath and the horrible sense of personal failure that accompanied it. I’m sure she has her own story as well.

There were basically two sister bonding instances during those weeks. The first was the day before leaving for Missouri. We spent at least an hour conferencing on the best way to get rid of a strange sore on my leg. She spent the better part of an hour poking around on my hairy skin with a sterilized needle. I’ll spare you all the gory details of blood and such, but I’m pretty sure it counted as sisterly love. Things were good between us for at least 24 subsequent hours.

The second bonding instance occurred in Missouri. It was a late-night conversation after we had both had naps too late in the day to be sleepy at the right time. Snug in the rather small bed that we had to share, we covered all sorts of topics- from childhood trauma to life as we know it. I learned things about her that I’m pretty sure I had never known before. Both of us happy the next day, I imagine that the honeymoon could have lasted at least 48 hours if I hadn’t committed the unpardonable sin against my sister by almost falling asleep in church…..

December 26, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Misery or Missouri?

Sardines are lucky. I was jealous of sardines. Sardines were packed in liquid so that, unlike me, they could slip around a bit. Five people. In one car. For 14 hours. Our annual trip to Missouri is never what I would call a pleasant experience, lengthy car rides not being my favorite mode of travel, but this one took the cake. Add one more person to our party and BAM! I was sitting in the middle in the back, with one foot on either side of that inevitable hump between the seats (As an aside, does anyone actually know why that hump is there? Is there a valid purpose for it, or is it put there just to make the middle-seat rider especially uncomfortable and serve as a constant reminder that they are, in fact, sitting in a middle seat?) We not only had ourselves packed into the front and back seats but, because the trunk was crammed with suitcases and bags and packages and who-knows-what, we had computer bags and backpacks and pillows and food bags packed around our heads and feet. If we had a wreck, only the driver would have moved. The rest of us would have melded into the luggage and metal and whatever tree we hit to become a sort of instant spectacle: travelers in amber.

My dad’s feet were cold. The entire trip. Constant calls from him to “turn up the heat!” left the rest of us feeling as if we were stuffed into a pressure cooker. I’m giving that man some wool socks.

My grandma, aunt and uncle, great aunt and uncle, and at least four cousins live in Missouri, making it a traditional gathering place for Christmas celebrations. Before my grandpa died, he and Grandma lived in a huge old house that had been standing in its spot for more than a hundred years. It had seen World War II soldiers bunking under its eaves as well as it had seen babies bouncing down its curving staircase. For years I had strange and fantastical dreams about that house, with its mysterious attic rooms and shaky narrow walk areas by the second-story windows. I actually put my foot through the upstairs floor once, and it lent an aura of danger to the entire experience. After that it was understood that some areas just weren’t safe to walk on. I would dream that behind the shady doors were more and more flights of stairs that led up and up in never-ending levels to curving passageways and hidden treasures.

Post-Grandpa, Grandma sold their antique business and moved from the big old house into a tiny apartment. Now when we visit Missouri we stay with my dad’s brother and his family in the house they built out in the middle of nowhere by a small lake. It just isn’t the same. Still, it’s great to spend time with family, especially if the other cousins show up. And then there’s always Grandma’s pumpkin pie, to which no other pie can compare.

This year, however, I knew that the cousins who lived in non-Missouri places would not be there. Even worse, Grandma was in a nursing home and would not be making any pumpkin pie. It would have been helpful to have pumpkin pie to look forward to during 14 hours in a middle seat. To make up for the pie, and to appropriately dull my senses, I took a nausea pill supplied by my sister (who should really look into drug dealing as a career) and promptly zonked out for pretty much the entire trip. Much to my annoyance, we took frequent bathroom breaks and food stops. I just wanted to sleep undisturbed for 14 hours. The drug kept me asleep enough to avoid becoming as completely tired of the drive as my travel companions, who were battling the rain that slowed us down considerably. Toward the very end of the trip, I woke up and began to watch Pride and Prejudice. “Why have I never seen this incredible movie before?!” I thought. And then, finally, we were there.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love for Travel, or Travel for Love?

I’m excited about my entire Christmas holiday.  At first, I was a bit aprehensive.  My ex-boyfriend is coming to my parents’ house with me for five days and I was worried that people wouldn’t understand what was going on and that it would be awkward for me, him, or those unknowing somebodies.  Now I’m just sad he’s not staying longer.  I haven’t brought a friend home for years.  It’s exciting!  Anyway, I’m toying with the idea of giving you some background information here.  I usually never include material regarding my love life in this blog, but sometimes I wonder if that’s a mistake.  It is, after all, the most noteworthy aspect of my life in some respects.

I shared some of my thoughts on heartbreak recently with my friend Midori, and she put it her dating advice blog. I think love and travel will always go together in a way. Whether it’s the brief encounter with an exotic stranger or the poignant correspondence with a love you pine for at home, even those who travel to escape love cannot really do so.

For those of you who read my Poland blog, what you didn’t know was that I left out a long and dramatic love affair- so long, in fact, that it far outlasted the span of my year in Poland. I think it has lasted for longer than either of us had originally imagined. While I was there in the land of cold sea breezes and cauliflower soup, I resumed conversations with the boyfriend I had left behind when I graduated from college and fled North America. The lengthy late-night/early-morning international phone calls rekindled a romance (had it ever really died?) and by February I knew that I was really in love. I dreamed of the day when we’d be face to face and I could tell him how I felt. Two months before I was set to return home and after one of the most romantic gestures I had ever received, we were once again a couple and I knew that he was in love too. Happily. …Or so I thought.. until two weeks later when I got that “we need to talk” phone call and it was suddenly and agonizingly over. He was simply driven by inexperience and fear at that point, but I couldn’t understand and it made the last few weeks in Poland extremely difficult. Having a broken heart and in the comfort and familiarity of home is nothing to having it ripped out in a foreign and largely unfamiliar land. A part of me wanted to stay, though, as I wasn’t returning home to the happily-ever-after that I had envisioned, but instead to a cold and uncertain reality. It’s impossible to describe the many ways in which this situation affected my year abroad. Or the ways in which it has shaped my life since then. Love has such an impact on every aspect our lives, not the least of which are our decisions to travel. I have friends whose travel is actually directly propelled by the need to escape love (or the loss of it, rather).

Through all of the drama of getting together and breaking up, dating other people, and living on different continents, this college boyfriend and I have a friendship that has triumphed and come out stronger than ever before. About a year ago we broke up for the last time and I finally decided that it was time for me to go on with my life, to stop opening myself to the pain that our relationship kept inevitably causing me. After three years, he just couldn’t seem to figure out what he really wanted and I thought it cruel to allow myself to wait any longer. It was no big surprise, however, that he remained one of my closest friends. We have a friendship that defies all the norms, all the expectations. That is probably why when he told me this fall that he not only was still in love with me, but was ready to offer me his heart without fear, I had to carefully consider him once again.

This Christmas is partly an attempt to redo a bit of the past, to do some of the things we wish we’d done then. And it’s partly a chance to reconsider the decisions I thought I’d set in concrete. They say that you learn so much about a person when you travel with them. if you knew just how strong a bond he and I share, you’d understand my hesitance to throw it all away- especially when he’s doing everything right, every single little thing…

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vacation Draweth Nigh!

In just four days I’ll be getting on a plane and I’m fairly itching with anticipation. It’s like that feeling you get when you’re on the phone with your mom and you’ve been talking about 1.75 hours and your boyfriend is there and you need to say goodbye but she wants to tell you one last (really lengthy) thing, and you just want to hang up and jump into Mr. looking-hot-today’s arms already. Or when you’re sitting in class, there are just two lousy minutes left on the clock, you’re thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch because you’re STARVED, and the teacher decides to “quickly” cover the last couple of slides in his powerpoint, which are loaded with tons of information that you’d like to blow off but know you should really pay attention to and even write down.

There are three days left of work in the lab, three days of wrapping presents and packing and cleaning. I’d rather spend those three days playing in the fresh snow that fell last night, baking Christmas cookies, and sitting in front of a fire watching Christmas movies. Alas, it is the real world and I have responsibilities.

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Soon….

Next month I’m doing some more traveling! 😀  Nothing too exotic- just a family trip to Texas and Missouri over Christmas…. with my ex-boyfriend!!! And after that- Disneyland! With…. the aforementioned ex……

I’ll keep you posted!

November 21, 2008 Posted by | United States | , , , , , | 2 Comments


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