Top of the World

One of the best things about spending vacation time at the family estate in the Maritimes is leaving again. My official welcome of "Looks like you put on some weight" forced an immediate reaction - a quick shrug of my shoulders, the biggest smile I could muster and then I let her have it with both barrels, "Hi Mom".

It's a good thing I've learned to chew on my animosity until it's broken down into bite size pieces and save it for later. My mother's mutterings are never as important as my focus on the other players in the game, the promise of assorted fried foods and the well nigh essential drinks.

My sister the Sister, and assorted other siblings and family members dug in and helped with the navigation through stories and updates of our follies past and present and those of family members foolish enough not to be there to defend themselves. Photo albums filled with markers proving the passage of time were reviewed, new poses were struck and we ate, drank and made merry.

When I visit, I stay with one of my sisters and her family because as hinted at above, I'm no longer small enough to fit through the door of my parent's apartment. She's a saint and everyone seems to land on her doorstep looking for respite. I believe she may be a bit closer to God than my sister the penguin.

My folks are aging faster than I'd ever imagined they could and in a weak moment, realizing that the next time everyone is together might not be for the happiest occasion, I suggested we plan a reunion. The immediate responses of "I don't think so" and "No friggin' way" caught me off guard. I thought I was the only one that found these gatherings so draining.

Coming back after any trip, I enjoy the way the world comes slowly into focus during the descent through the clouds. Subdivisions promise a neatly laid out model for living, swimming pools glint semi-preciously in the sunlight, cars perform strange migrations around off-ramps and rows of school buses rest parked together like so many No. 2 pencils. I feel at peace looking down at everything and wait for the crunch of tires on asphalt to signal the start of my next episode in this strange life.


Jill said...

Don't you worry about the "Did you gain weight" part!! My grandma always says the same thing to us, even if we lost weight!! And like a month ago, one of my cousin went to see her and said to my cousin : "You are getting as big as Jill!" And my cousin is like 70 pounds heavier than me for about to same height or an inch taller...

Anonymous said...

Your prose is so lyrical, Dale. Swimming pools glittering semi-preciously indeed.

jewgirl said...

I'm with fluffy slips on your prose, darling.

I love family, all of it, even how maddening it can be.


BeckEye said...

Parents are the only people who are allowed to harp on your weight without any repurcussions. Since they have that power, it's no wonder that they use it so often.

It's funny how the first 15 years of my life were spent listening to my Dad yell at me that I'd better eat everything on my plate and to not be a "waster." I finally learned to eat a lot, and now that my metabolism has exploded, I have to listen to him tell me to "watch myself" and that I need to push myself away from the table once in a while.

Tanya Espanya said...

Glad you're back. 'Ow was your visit wit' Jill?

Anonymous said...

Yeah and if you'd lost weight they'd be asking you if you're sick. You can't win with family!

X. Dell said...

Sounds like a great visit, especially if fried clams were in the bargain.

I don't know why, but I thought you were a native of Ontario. My friend Jeanniegrrl (from NB) has a name for people who leave the Maritimes to seek fame and fortune in the more affluent provinces, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it was.

Chancelucky said...

It's nice to have you back Dale. Sorry that your visit sounded more like duty than pleasure, but it's sure a pleasure to read about it. I guess taht doesn't make it any more fun to live through though.

Dale said...

Oh, I'm not as big as you Jill so I'm okay!

Thank you Pink Fluffy Slippers, that's sweet of you to say.

Can you love my family when I refuse to Katie? Remember, I could break up with you at any minute over the train conductor guy.

That's an interesting turnaround isn't it Beckeye? Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.

I think she served me at Dixie Lee Tanya, she was a bit slow but I eventually got what I ordered.

The funny thing is that I've lost about 20 pounds since she last saw me Bluez, I think it was force of habit to just say something ridiculous.

You probably do remember but you're being nice X. Dell. I'm racking my brain too, there are probably a couple of names for it. Fried clams are so excellent aren't they?

Parts of it were excellent Chancelucky, don't let all my grousing fool you. I always have a good measure of anxiety but apart from the expected ridiculousness, there are always great things to overshadow that.

gifted typist said...

Sorry to have missed you while I was in TO and you the Maritimes. Now I am in the Maritimes and you are back in TO.

When I arrived in TO the temperatures dropped 20 degrees and it cleared up in the Maritimes. When I left TO the temps went up again and the fog returned to the Maritimes.

You travelled opposite directions at the same time.So who do you suppose it is, Dale, me or you?

Jill said...

Good then Dale!!! I can sit on you sorry ass, and beat the hell out of you , and you won't be able to do anything!!
And didn't you get sick from that Dixie Lee??

Barbara Bruederlin said...

If you survived that and still maintained your humour and eloquence, you are a better man than I am, Dale. Family get togethers are always a mix of love, animosity, practicality and absurdity, aren't they. I have a sneaking suspicion that your non-penguin sister isn't the only one in your family who is saintly.

Flannery Alden said...

You had me at "so many No. 2 pencils".

Stop making my heart melt.

Zed said...

As you know, I just hate it when I have to say nice things to you but:

1. Bravo for not striking anyone or mass murdering the attendees at the family get-together.
2. Why don't you just write the Great Canadian Novel (or Non-Fiction Work) and get it over with, because you are one of very few writers who always makes me want to race back to your words to see what new clever thing you have written. I hate that. :)

On the negative side, looks like you put on some weight, Dale. Just sayin'.

Andi said...

My great grandmother used to tell me I was fat and then feed me ice cream. I did a little dance when she died, but don't tell anyone.


I agree with pinkfluffyslippers, you are quite lyrical and brilliant. Wanna write my blog for me?

Berry said...

Wooo-hoo! Ain't it nice to get that obligation out of the way? You're free and clear, my friend!

When I lived out of the country, I used to find my annual pilgrimage for a family visit so emotionally draining. Now that I live close to them again, it's WAY easier to take them in small, frequent doses.

Love the No. 2 pencil imagery. Brilliant, that.

Bubs said...

Welcome back! That was a beautifylly written account of a somewhat trying experience, family being what it is. I especially loved the way you described your return home in the last paragraph.

Johnny Yen said...

Family is, like anything, best taken in moderation.

Tenacious S said...

Well, whether your vacation was superb or not, your story was lyrically delicious. Yummy! Missed you. Welcome back.

Flannery Alden said...

Andi, once, when I was feeling good about someone dying and feeling guilty about feeling good, by Dad shared this helpful little proverb:

Everyone brightens a room, some by coming in and some by leaving.

Tanya Espanya said...

I love that saying, Flannery!

Grant Miller said...

Wait wait wait. Where did you go?

Beth said...

Put me on the Pink Fluffy Slippers/Jewgirl car, Dale. My fave line is rows of school buses rest parked together like so many No. 2 pencils. I believe you're becoming the poet laureate of our blogosphere.

I'm glad you're home.

Dale said...

It's me Gifted Typist, it's always me. And now that Tanya's showed me a picture of you from your visit, I'm sorry I missed you too. You don't look at all like an axe murderer.

Dixie Lee is from God, Jill. Thank you for your kind words.

I'm no saint if that's who you're referring to Barbara! Too many evil thoughts, all the time! I loved the way you described family get togethers, maybe you are a better man!

You're all melty Flannery? My plan is working!

Haha, you're an original Zed! I'm almost glad you made it back from that long walk. I ain't heavy, I'm your blogger.

That's funny Andi and it's about time dancing on graves got more mainstream. I barely have the ability to write my own blog so I have to decline.

I hadn't considered the living closer as an easier prospect Berry, interesting. Where out of the country?

Hey Bubs, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed that.

Succinct and correct Johnny Yen!

Lyrically delicious Ten. S? That's lyrical in itself.

Excellent adage Flannery. I'm adopting it at once.

Tanya, isn't it time you and Flannery just got a room and videotaped it?

I knew you'd miss me the most Grant Miller. I thought of you nevery day.

You're as sweet as a Georgia peach (if they're really that sweet) Beth. I'm glad I'm home too.

chelene said...

Reunions always seem like a good idea until they actually happen and someone winds up in jail and/or disinherited. Consider yourself lucky, Dale.

mellowlee said...

Aaaah family! I am steeling myself for a visit to my family at the end of the summer. I haven't been back for a few years. Glad to have you back Daleo XO

Coaster Punchman said...

I'm with Chelene. I'm glad no one was injured. Or were they?

Beth said...

The peaches just got sweet and juicy. C'mon down; aren't you due for a vacation?

Johnny Yen said...

Flannery-- I am going to have to use that one for one of my "Quote of the Week"s

pezda said...

I love my family (er, some of them at least), but, I find get togethers are trying at best, downright exhausting and depressing otherwise. If I am going to take time out of my life for a vacation, I sure as Hell don't want to spend it with the very people I spent so long trying to get away from.

Dale said...

One of my mother's famous lines Chelene is that all of her kids graduated high school and none of them ended up in jail. If only, I'm pretty sure the food would have been better.

Thanks Mellowlee, good to be back. Yep, nothing quite like a reunion to get your anxiety centre working overtime.

No physical injuries anyway Coaster Punchman.

Why Beth, I do declare! You're my first stop if I make it to your neck and peaches of the woods.

It's definitely worth repeating Johnny Yen.

Pezda, you're my hero for hitting it on the head. Are you for hire?

Old Lady said...

Leave it to you to make the urban life a warm comfortable respite.

kate said...

amazing how much you really do have in common with your family. Its just that at some point in life you just stop communicating with them as you do with your friends.... I wonder why... perhaps because we take them for granted... idk

As for your request to have a reunion... you now have 'I told you so' ammunition should, God forbid, something should happen. (Ok it was a lame try at spinning it positive and being funny all at the same time! sorry! lol)

Dale said...

It works for me Old Lady, home is where the respite is.

Oh, I'll be working the 'I told you so' angle for the rest of our days Kate, I'm just like that. Family is such a strange thing.