home tripping

i went home for summer break. i had almost decided to go to hong kong, when it occurred to me, that i needed to go home. (besides, have you heard how hot it is in hong kong this time of year?!)

the lighter side. . .

i got quite a bit accomplished.

i emptied more trunks and tubs of stuff. gave some useful things to people who i thought could actually use them and i think i got rid of every last notebook from college. there is still more that i feel i should be able to get rid of, but i guess in time, i’ll be able to pair down even more.

i did some tailoring on some clothes i brought with me. (put mom’s new sewing machine to the test.) and even branched back into making stuff. i had a short jag of sewing when i was little. i remember making my christmas gifts for all my cousins at the time. i’m not formally trained in anyway- maybe a couple of classes in home-ec, but i seem to remember how to put a few things together. (i’m excited about something i made, but i can’t share till i’ve given it as the surprise gift it was intended.)

i got together with friends and had a good time.

had a great lunch with a high school friend that i might not have seen in ten years or so, and there’s always that hope that some sort of correspondence will continue, since one lunch is barely scratching the surface of catching up.

also made it to a candle light party where i got to see a lot of friends i made when i moved home a few years back. granted the candle light party was an unusual backdrop, but it supplied the time and place. . . and well, delicious treats. and while i enjoy a nicely scented candle like many people, i was reminded of a world in which i don’t quite fit. a world where people decorate their interiors to match the season. i have some decorations, and if i have the right space i might put a pumpkin out at halloween, but that’s about the extent of it.

a birthday dinner party combined with a chance to see a friend’s newish house (well, new to me) and some very yummy grilling.

i got to see the area that my parents are interested in moving to. it’s a really nice area, and the thought of them having a house with fewer problems is really fantastic, but there is a little bit that would feel weird about visiting and not going back ‘home.’ i thought about it for a little bit and wondered if i shouldn’t race around taking pictures of every nook and cranny. . . but then i realized. . . my mom would have that covered. (their yard did look especially nice this summer though.)

i got to eat a bunch of flavors that aren’t as easy to come by in korea. . . and i did a brisk supply grab at a grocery- though it wasn’t the leisurely- marvel at everything in the aisle- shopping i had hoped for.

there were a couple misses. . . a rain cancellation and a too close to call chance to see some other friends.

i had energy when i didn’t anticipate it, and i got a lot accomplished, but there is always the hope to have done more. i’d like to think that i’d learn from it and not put so many gatherings towards the end of a visit. . . but really, how else is anything going to be done?

the not so light side. . .

my biggest concern was getting home to see my grandpa. he suffered from a stroke a few months back and went through a couple of other scares while in rehabilitation. ultimately, he’s ended up at a full care facility close to my parents.

before i went home, i tried looking into games that people play to improve hand eye coordination. you know, something to share. . . something to contribute. . .

i’m not sure if i didn’t fully understand, or if i had chosen to not hear the extent of his condition. i didn’t see much of the man i knew as my grandpa in the person who looked like my grandpa, and i miss him.

we got up to see him several times over my week home. i have to take a lot of what other people say into account. everyone says he’s looking well. the nurses there were very friendly and really seem to put a lot into treating the patients like family. my dad said he was in good spirits and excited to see me and my brother. he made a lot of attempts to speak, more than usual from what mom and dad say.

he has massive hands that he used for detailed technical drawing and woodwork. these days, he’s pretty good at grasping the cup holding his new favorite drink, the mcdonald’s mango smoothie, but he made hand gestures and waved to mean things that we couldn’t understand. he used to make all of us giggle over sunday brunch with witty comments and snarky remarks. . . but now he labors to cough and burble through words.

the part that really kills me, is that i can’t tell if he’s frustrated by it, or if he doesn’t remember anything different.

what are we supposed to hope for? that a large part of what made someone the person that we know him as is gone, but that he doesn’t know the difference, so he isn’t tormented by the fact that he can’t convey what he’s trying so hard to say? or that he’s still in there, completely, and we get to see these minute glimpses in a smile or an expression of excitement. . . while he is frustrated that he can’t say what he’s working so hard to say?

try choking back that thought and tears while you’re trying to have a pleasant visit. (i’ll tell you how it ends, you lean down to kiss your grandpa good bye and are barely able to form the words, then you turn to make a bee line for the bathroom where you can sob for a while.)

i really didn’t want to cry in front of him. if he was in there, i didn’t want him to see how badly i felt for him. . . and if he wasn’t in there so much, i didn’t want him wondering why i was upset.

the super - try to lighten the mood - light side. . .

for the flight back, i was anticipating one more comfort. i finally got a pair of noise cancellation headphones. (which also lead to a taste testing of headphones over the dining room table) i was rather excited to give them a whirl. and while they are rather fantastic, they sort of paled in comparison to the next big step in comfort.

when i arrived at the airport, i ended up having to switch flights and the only way they could get me on my original flight from japan to korea was to book me onto a new flight entirely. . . and the only way they could get me onto that flight was to book me in business class. as i told the lovely canada air desk clerk. . . ‘i guess i will just have to suffer through it.’

my puddle jump to toronto before the long business class flight was filled with devil spawn screaming behind me. (seriously, the two grown men seated next to me were covering their ears to muffle the sound of these brats) but man. . . on a 12+ hour flight. . . there’s nothing quite like business class. i am possibly forever ruined. an unshared space. . . where you can completely lie down. . . with amazing food. . . and extra little services. . . . how am i supposed to afford that without involving airport delays?!

well, something to look into. . .