Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Sunday afternoon over the holiday weekend, my sister Lindi and brother-in-law Michael hosted a catered party on their lawn. I had a nice enough time meeting their friends and neighbors and colleagues, even though I am generally not a fan of making small talk with strangers. After the sun lowered on the horizon, the last of the guests found their way home, and the caterers packed the leftovers into the refrigerator, Michael’s two brothers, their families and his parents lingered. The party after the party; the best part of my day. The air was thick with humidity as we sat around talking and watching the kids swim. Eventually, when we got hungry, we rummaged and found leftover sandwiches, what the caterers used as raw material for cutting into two bite portions to serve –lox between thick slices of pumpernickel; cucumber between butter slathered white bread; curried chicken salad on rye. We ate them right out of their ziplock bags and washed them down with martinis. The conversation was opinionated and lively, as I expect it always is when Michael and his brothers get together. It made me wish, not for the first time, that my family all lived in the same place.
Part of the pleasure I experience in being east is in the unfamiliarity I have with my surroundings. I asked my sister if she now feels like an East Coaster, and was a bit surprised to hear that she does. Sometimes I forget how much time has passed since our childhood in Alaska. Saturday night, at a restaurant in New Canaan, Connecticut it was all I could do not to gawk, in between bites of my sweet corn tortelloni, at the men wearing embroidered belts and salmon colored pants. I forget that preppy culture is alive and well in pockets of the country. I’m sure those same residents of New Canaan experience a sense of the alien when they visit the Pacific Northwest.
Alexi realized he’d lost his driver’s license as soon as we got to Connecticut, adding some drama to our return home. Perhaps because he was traveling with three other people with the same last name, with ID, we were let through airport security without more than a brief delay for questioning. We ended up with some extra time, and I used it to get coffee. I had the best cappuccino of my life right there in JFK, at an Illy stand that also served pastries from Balthazar. Almost instantly, I felt cheerful, despite having been up since 4:00am.
This morning, the first day of school, we all got up feeling a little nervous, a little excited, and jetlagged. I made oatmeal with peaches for breakfast, which tasted more like peach pie, they are that good right now. Some worry stayed with me all day, intermingled with the sweetness of the peaches.