Ah the ‘family trip’. At first glance it seems like such a fabulous idea. A nice little get away to do some ‘girl bonding’. Oh boy. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but the good thing about us is that we understand each other. We know what makes each other tick and we know how each other thinks. Close quarters are tough, but it’s manageable with understanding.
In reality, it went a little something like this…… "Let’s go to Sudbury", "No I hate Sudbury it’s boring as all Christ let’s go to Petoskey", "I’d rather slit my wrists than go there why can’t we go to Sudbury", "I’d rather die a slow death than go to Sudbury"….."Okay Traverse City for the millionth time it is". "Where do you want to stay", "Let’s stay at the Great Wolf", "We’ve stayed there 700 times let’s stay somewhere cheap so we can save some money", "Okay where", "I don’t know lets look it up", "How about we just be adventurous and drive there and see what we find", "How about we don’t". End result, we book a room for $75 that sounds reasonable.
We hit the highway in my SUV with my family clutching the ‘oh my god’ bars fearing for thier lives. LIttle do they know I’ve prepared some very enjoyable playlists for our highway run at 6 that morning, anticipating a musical debate. I have Top 40 for my niece, Indie for myself, 80’s for my sister and some Niel Young and Bob Dylan for my mom. I don’t know if they like this crap but I love it all. I play one song and my sister glares at me out of the corner of her eye. "What the sweet hell is this junk" she says, and takes over. Ah, I see she has discovered my 80’s mix. The gloriousness of this playlist has our fingers snapping and heads bobbing. A little "Come on Eileen" and "Modern Love" never hurt anyone I say. Many laughs. We dip into Petosky, get our Starbucks and and continue to Traverse. We shop, a grand ole time is had at the Grand Traverse. Ah, a pun.
Later, we walk in to our non-smoking room to what can only be described as a cigg-haven. My sister who despises smoking is gagging and coughing up an invisable lung droning on and on about how vile the stench is. She whips open the window and fans her nose, eyes running, making gurgling noises. She believed the only way to diffuse the stench of ciggs was to spray her newly purchased cucumber body spray on everything in sight. I despise the stench of cucumber to a degree much higher than stale ciggs. Now they have amalgomated into a putred steam that is making my head spin. Good stuff. The window is whipped open further and we go for a lovely dinner.
We come back and prepare our receipts for the border and my niece and I decide to go for a swim before bed. My sister comes in to lounge in the pool area to watch us and asks my niece why she has her shorts on over her bathing suit. My niece tells her that her bottoms are a little too small now so my sister asks to see what she is talking about. My niece meticulously grabs at the waist of her shorts and lowers them to show my sister what she means….and shows the entire pool her bare ass. She didn’t even know she did it until I doubled over laughing. Very cute family in the pool with a new baby whom my sister tells me later mother describes as "a dark baby". Sweet Christ Almighty.
Sleep. Four girls sleeping in two double beds. I called dibs on my niece because to share a bed with my sister or mother, whom I know both snore, is a rage-risk I’m not willing to take. Instead I nab the ‘flailer’. I’d rather be unknowingly punched in the face in my sleep by a 15lb arm than be wide awake all night. Sister is not happy. She wants to sleep with her daughter. Too bad. Many Doritoes and Rieces Pieces are eaten in our bed :). After our movie is over my sister promptly states its time for bed and to turn off the lights and tv and go to sleep. This is instant fuel people, instant fuel. I do not like being told what to do, I do not like not having a choice. We have established this in prior blogs. So because of my vow to use my voice in 2010, I tell her that isn’t an option and she has two choices 1) the tv stays on or 2) the lamp stays on because I’m not tired and have to so something to get tired. She’s pissed because she can’t sleep with either on. My mother sighs because shes exhausted and doesn’t give a shit what goes on she is going to sleep but wants us to shut up and let it happen. I tell my sister to put the blanket over her eyes because I will compromise and read for only ten minutes. She snaps but I do it anyways because it’s my turn to be bossy. She continues to watch tv. I stick to my word and in ten minutes I roll over and she keeps watching tv even though she is sooooooooooo tired because my mother is tossing and turning and she is huffing and puffing and restless and can’t sleep now. I am almost asleep when I hear it. The snoring. I roll over and my sister has passed out watching tv within five minutes. For someone that can’t sleep with a light or tv on, both are still on and she sure as fuck is sound asleep. I’m instantly pissed. I turn off the tv and lamp and try to sleep. My mother starts snoring. This is two people snoring. I tell myself to calm down because I can feel my chest tighten and my breathing quicken. I think if I can only find a rhythm in the snoring then maybe I can use it to lull me to sleep. It doesn’t happen because I’m too pissed. My niece starts snoring. It’s a suicide mission…I know it now, they are trying to make me end my life. I start devising plans because there has to be choices. I can go and put the lid down on the toilet and read in the bathroom but that’s not comfortable. I can sleep in the tub (its been done before) but it’s wet because we showered. At this point I am so pissed and restless that I am not lying, I was thinking of sleeping in the truck. My niece’s pillow was already in there because my sister snapped and wouldn’t let her put it on the bed due to the threat of bed bugs. Really. I tried to explain that if bed bugs were to get on her pillow case they would surely get on our bodies and in our hair as well but for some reason that didn’t make sense and it wasn’t as critical as them getting in her pillow case. In any event the pillow was out there and I would just have to sidle out there with a blanket from the bed, it’s like it was meant to happen that way. But then I thought they would wake up and think I was kidnapped from the window that was half open… the one they they were so sure someone would break into when we were out for dinner that they left the tv blaring to distract the burglar into thinking we were in there. I better not sleep in the car. I call my sisters name and huff and puff loudly and flip and flop to try to wake her up inconspicuously and it doesn’t work. I’m almost in tears I’m so dilerious because I hadn’t slept the night before either. If you know me, you know I don’t sleep. What the hell am I going to do? OOOOOOOOOoooooooh I know I’ll play with my Blackberry! I steamroll my niece and grab it out of my purse.
Well the huffing and puffing and flipping and flopping and television and light sure didn’t wake up my sister but you better believe that the miniature light on the face of the Blackberry and clicking of the keys sure as hell did. What a nightmare. "What the fuck are you doing" she says. "Well since I’m five and not allowed to watch television or read my book even though everyone in this goddamn room is snoring and keeping me awake, and since I am the one that has to drive tomorrow but doesn’t get the option of sleep, I thought I’d develop another plan and play on my phone during these waking hours" I say. She didn’t like it. "Well maybe you could sleep if you weren’t on your goddamn phone with the light blazing in your eyes" she says. "Actually I can’t sleep with the fucking symphony playing out in here" I say. "Well maybe I wouldn’t be snoring if this room didn’t smell like a cigarrete factory and my bed wasn’t a bed-bug infested goose down nightmare to my allergies" she says. Holy hell. There was no hope. I almost had to laugh at this point, completely dilerious. I said to my self, "Self, you never sleep, what’s one more night". So I turned off that Blackberry and furiously stared at the ceiling. Can you feel my stress? I can, it hurts to re-live it.
I laid there for about a half hour trying to relax into tiredness until niece woke up. She sat up and I watched her try and figure out where she was. She reached out and touched me and said "Auntie where is the washroom?" I knew she was out of sorts so I just said "To the right Holly" and she went to the washroom and came back and snuggled back in to bed beside me. I spent the previous two hours restless and furious as all hell, devising plans and practicing meditation, and that one moment was all it took to calm me down. I don’t know what about that moment did it, but it did. On some level of consciousness, she didn’t remember where she was but she knew I was there, and she trusted me.
I laid there and started thinking about the trip and instead of focusing on the annoying parts started thinking about how lucky I was. I don’t have a big family, it is actually very, very small and it makes me sad. I want the big family get togethers, and the cousins and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and family dinners and big holiday celebrations. I have one sister, my mother, one niece, a step-father, two step-brothers I rarely see, a half-brother I never see, a real-father I don’t care to see, cousins I struggle to see and one grandmother. It’s small, will get smaller, and people are busy. Try as I may to ensure Sunday dinners say regular, they do not. I do not see my family a lot and we live within 1-5km of each other. So in this one moment I looked around and was greatful that the girls were all there together. We had to leave town to make it happen, but I was so thankful we did. It was worth the debt and the fighting and the smokers cough to get to the bonding and laughter. I looked at each of thier faces and felt overwhelmed with gratitude, and happiness, and calm. There were a lot of things going in that room and in that moment, but the biggest thing I felt right then…..was love.