suburban bliss
June 6, 2011

Welcome to the childhood I never actually had.

Come on in, really. We’re all here. In Connecticut. In the house I grew up in. We’re eating barbecued ribs and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. We’re throwing around a tennis ball in the park across the street at midday. Dave’s playing tennis with my parents at the courts by the middle school. Dad’s nearly done with the Monday crossword puzzle. The rest of us are enjoying a cheery evening game of scrabble.

All with a golden retriever puppy in tow.

double word score!

Seriously, have you ever seen anything so…American?

This might be par for the course at your exceedingly normal family home, but it’s a little bizarre from where I’m sitting. I think I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but I didn’t exactly have your textbook childhood. My family, god love them, is a little on the weird side. Little Jacob harbored weird obsessions with cows and sharks and “plugging” inanimate objects into power outlets. He also had a stutter so bad my mom was pretty sure he was going to end up as a bagger in the grocery store. Benjamin was, for years, convinced his name was spelled B-E-M. My mother sparked a massive town scandal over test scores, of all things, and then wrote about it in the local newspaper, just in case I wasn’t already weird enough in middle school. My dad has devoted his life to studying pee. And me? Dude, I’m the worst of them. I mean, you’re reading this blog – I don’t have to tell you twice that I’m not so normal.

I’m totally fine with all this now – I’ve come to terms with it, have even grown to love some of our quirkier attributes – but this week’s sudden return to the wholesome remains a little foreign to me. A family that functions without excessive screaming, blood, sweat, urine samples, and tears? Weeks in Connecticut free of threats of being sent to private school/the family therapist/Vermont? What’s a grown-up weird girl to do?

wine + 26th birthday cupcakes + giant, heart-shaped sunglasses (at night, in february) = grown up weird girl

Answer: embrace it, I guess. I mean, the puppies are cute. The sunshine feels good on my face. The food isn’t so bad.

And at the end of the day, despite the glean of perfection, my mom is still alarmingly obsessed with the Anthony Weiner scandal, my dad is still making off-color jokes and inciting riots on the tennis court with people we don’t know. Scratch a little bit below the surface, and life is still, blissfully, imperfect. Just like I’m used to.

Lessons learned this weekend
March 13, 2011

1- It’s probably not the most mature or sophisticated idea to down a massive beer in an Irish pub moments before meeting with the manager of the fanciest restaurant in New Haven, which also serves as the Yale faculty’s watering hole. But it will make the act of sifting through a 30-page catering guide and listening to her pretentious ramblings just the teensiest bit more enjoyable.

2-Some people don’t have a sense of humor, which is all well and fine. But if they happen to be a bartender, this means you don’t need to leave them a tip.

3-Just because you have warm memories of a city that was easily accessible from your suburban hometown and had both an Urban Outfitters¬†and a bookstore with a cafe in it – which seemed oh so cool at the time – doesn’t mean it’s actually a cool place to live in your twenties.

4- The puppy will trade a stick, a tennis ball or even your underwear for a treat. But she’s not going to let go of that dead mouse, no matter how much you try to entice her with organic dog bones or chase her around a tree or don the most horrified expression you’re ever worn. Relatedly: Ew.

5-The Mexican food you grew up on, from the little place downtown that witnessed every development in every relationship you ever had before leaving for college, and even some afterward, really is that good.

6- Yes, it’s a little weird that most of the people who used to live in your neighborhood – from Mrs. Kennedy, forever sitting in a silk nightgown in her kitchen and smoking cigarettes, to your bus stop companions for a decade – have all moved on, to Manhattan or graduate school or heaven. Yes, you’re no longer a child pumping your two-wheeler up the hill. Yes, there are new people moving in.Yes, you are getting older; maybe even old.¬†But, it could be worse. You could be the one moving in with the children.

That place I’m from
April 5, 2010

I spent the weekend in my hometown, an act that I can never quite string together into an accurate sentence. Did I “go home this weekend”? Or “visit my parents’ house”? Maybe, “the town I grew up in”? I can’t seem to find the right words.

I wonder when, exactly, that changes. Because as much as I understand that I live in Philadelphia, in my big girl apartment, with my boyfriend, the words still slip out every time I take that familiar route up I-95: I’m going home.

It’s not even like their house is more familiar to me than our little fourth floor-walk up; it’s not. I go home infrequently enough that it’s still a minor readjustment every time, remembering which drawer holds the frying pans and how the back stairs curve and the fact that there’s a cathedral ceiling in the study now, thanks to a little remodeling my mom pioneered a few years ago.

It doesn’t help that one of my mother’s favorite hobbies – to my father’s chagrin – is redecorating. One by one, the rooms of my childhood have disappeared, replaced by interior designer-approved curtains and reupholstered sofas and, if she really bugs him enough, new furniture. In a weird twist, the futon that was totally the scene of many a high school make out session now resides in our apartment, while the room that used to house it now contains a queen-sized bed for Dave and I to sleep in when we visit. Cue the “Circle of Life” or something?

Anyway, this post actually wasn’t meant to devolve into an existential examination of growing up, or something fit for Lifetime TV. I’m just surprised to still be in this sort of limbo. I’m surprised that I still feel such affection for a place where I probably haven’t spent more than seven consecutive days since I was 19.

And, really, I just wanted to show you some pictures.

Like, of my dog.

And my brother. Who generally looks at me like this:

Except when he thinks no one’s looking. (Gotta love that Nikon zoom lens.)

I was also reunited with my mom’s credit card.

Just kidding! I bought that lace Odille shirt all by myself. Although, yeah, I’m probably returning it.

Mani/pedis, on the other hand, are a mother-daughter-BFFs tradition, and anyone who tries to pay (cough, Megan) will be swiftly punished.

While hanging around the house, the nostalgia, as always, is free. And also apparently mandatory, due to the ever-present reminders of Hannukahs and hair styles past.

(Yes, Shanie. That’s you.)

All in all, it was a lovely weekend with a classic itinerary (nails, sushi, shopping, repeat) plus one unfamiliar face (the Ecuadorian resident.)

Who, actually, might not be a resident of Ecuador for much longer. He’s not coming home, exactly, but sometimes being separated by a few states, instead of a continent, is close enough.