We've now been back for a little over a week. All of the suitcases have been unpacked (including the one that showed up four days late) and put away. Everyone has slept through the night four our five times in a row. We've had dinner that didn't come from the freezer or the food stand down the road. I even exercised the last three days of the week. Life is pretty much back to normal.
Every summer we spend three weeks visiting family, experiencing the delights of America, and visiting family some more. The first week I can't believe that I ever wanted to leave Eden for places that don't make lines, obey traffic signals, or cure concrete properly. I know that I'll have to go back eventually, but it's in such a long time I can't even think of it. Who cares? Pass me some more birthday cake Oreos! And ice cream!
The second week I can start to see the beginning of the end. How will I be able to bear leaving all of this fun and family and order? I don't ever want to leave! Maybe Brandon could get a job as... something... that would let us stay. No really, do I have to leave? Maybe I can get sick and stay for a little longer.
By the end of the third week, however, the fun has worn thin, the children are no longer amazed by riding water slides, and every iteration of fast food and pizza delivery has been tried. Twice. Even Target loses its glow. And by the end of thirty-six hours of traveling, America is a distant and hazy dream and I will do anything - even live in a country that doesn't have Krispy Kreme - to just be finished with airports and airplanes and airplane food and disconsolate babies.
And then we're home again, having had all of the fun, food, and family for our entire year packed into three short, busy, crazy weeks. Our clothes smell funny from being washed with someone else's detergent, the suitcases lay scattered across the house, half-eviscerated and trailing crumpled remnants across the floor, and nobody can find that crucial toy or blanket or piece of clothing that is hiding somewhere. I go to bed wondering when I'll wake up staring at the ceiling, or even worse, when that child will wake me up right after I've finally fallen asleep after hundreds of sheep marched past me. Mornings are good because the never-ending darkness is over and we can playact going about the normal parts of life - eat breakfast, have school, eat lunch, play, cook dinner, bed. Mornings are bad because we all feel like we've been run over by a long line of trucks and everyone is looking for someone else to take it out on.
But eventually the suitcases lose their viscera and are packed away, flat and empty, for next time. The clothes get washed in my own detergent and smell like they're supposed to. The playacting turns into real life, and only a twinge of tiredness reminds me that maybe I'm still a little jet-lagged. The children become friends again, and things lost are restored.
And then, normal life has resumed.
But there is a freshness, like the air after a particularly intense late-summer thunderstorm. The mugginess of high summer, weeks of stale air, are washed away to let in the first fresh promises of fall. Changes which seemed like so much work in the hot sluggishness of summer now seem within one's grasp. Those things that had stewed all summer now practically jump into existence, ready to take root and change the world. Possibility is everywhere.
I know that eventually the staleness will settle in again, the never-ending tasks that come with running a household and raising children. But success in life mostly comes in grinding away at small, every day tasks that add up to a lifetime, not brilliant flashes of frenzied activities. And so I know that the days will turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years and decades and a lifetime made up of small daily moments.
But for now, all is fresh and rested, ready for the beginning of a new season, a new school year, and new things. It is good to be back.