Saturday, December 30, 2006

Homecoming

Ever have the realization that your house is just so... wrong that you can't imagine another five minutes, let alone five years, stuck in the place?

Really, what was I thinking when I chose that butter-hued paint for the den? Of course I never got around to sticking anything up on the walls, so the uninterrupted expanse of yellow eerily glows in such a way that I might be inspired to pen a sequel to that Charlotte Perkins Gilman story one day. The dated black tile floor puddled beneath it certainly doesn't help matters. And that twee closet of a master bathroom? Please; let's not discuss it.

At least, that's what I thought two weeks ago. Tonight, the yellow walls look sunny and cheerful. I could kiss the dark floors that forgive and repel every insult hurled at them by our wrecking crew. And our cozy bathroom? Well, if I tried to fling my hat in the air, I might smack my elbows into the shower door, but I can certainly manage a tiny twirl with a giddy grin on my face.

After eight days, three hotels, the generosity of two relatives who invited us to crash in their homes, and approximately 2,300 miles spanning nine states, we are finally home. It's never seemed sweeter to me.

Please don't misunderstand me: the trip was great. We had adventures of both the planned sort and the surprise variety. We lit candles and sang carols on Christmas Eve, and watched the kids tear into their overstuffed stockings the next morning. We treasured moments spent with our grandmothers and tried to memorize every detail of their interactions with their great-grandchildren. We laughed lots, cried a little, threw an occasional tantrum and snapped nearly 700 pictures of most of the aforementioned.

But Dorothy, you were so right: there's no place like home.

My bed... MY BED! beckons me, so I'll make an honest effort to go back in time and scribe some of our more remarkable road-trip memories tomorrow. But before they fade away forever, I'll share a few thoughts from today's journey.

This morning, we awoke to the now-familiar repertoire of Carter pulling back the heavy curtains of our hotel room to reveal the sun, and explaining to us in a tone of wonder and urgency that, because the sun was awake, we should be, too. Today's sun was barely visible through the haze of clouds and rain that rolled into Little Rock, Arkansas while we slept, but that didn't stop Carter from rousing us from bed.

In short order, we forged a plan: showers. Breakfast in the room. Repacking and, somehow, restuffing the already-stuffed Suburban. Peppy morning beverages. And before we embarked on the last leg of our journey home, we'd take a fascinating, educational field trip to a special place that would, we were confident, entertain and inspire our three young citizens.

Yes. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library. As we pulled into the parking lot, I felt reverent, even a bit tearful. I'd seen the pictures that made the structure look for all the world like a double-wide trailer home suspended in the air... but in person, it truly was a thing of beauty. We learned afterward that its design was an homage to the six Little Rock bridges that span the nearby Arkansas River as well as the Clinton administration's role in building a bridge to the 21st century.

I'd be happy to dreamily describe the grid of glass panels comprising the facade, which struck such a contrast against the dark and stormy sky. The rush and thunder of the fountains leading up to the front door. The fascinating exhibits and interactive displays, the funny handwritten notes and the columns of archived material, all within reach of everyone who enters the place. The recreated Oval Office and Cabinet room. The gifts and artifacts and personal mementos.

But really, you should go see it for yourself. Unless, say, you've got the crazy notion that you'll be able to see anything of any importance whilst chasing almost-two-year-old twins and a four-year-old, all of whom are stir-crazy, rebellious and rambunctious after a week of travel. No, then you should either find a babysitter or try again when they're of voting age themselves.

And so we bid the Clinton library adieu and promised to return another time. Then we hit the road hard. Miraculously, the kids all napped, even as Trey and I high-fived each other when we crossed the state border of Texas. As the sun was setting wide and crimson ahead of us, we caught our first glimpse of the Dallas skyline. We cheered even louder when we pulled into our driveway.

The car doors swung open. In short order, so did the front door. The boys tumbled into the house, thrilled to see that Nana had stopped by earlier in the day and arranged toys under the tree.

But Katie, who'd protested the drive the loudest and crankiest, stuck close to the car, undeterred by the night chill, as Trey and I scurried in and out of the house with armfuls of luggage. "Katie, sweetie," I called for the eighth time, "please go inside! Aren't you happy to be home?"

Trey studied her for a second and said, "I think she must have Stockholm syndrome."

Well, we'll deal with that tomorrow. Tonight, we're home.

3 Comments:

Blogger Sugar Photography said...

WELCOME HOME!!!!!

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohh, love love love the Gilman reference. I loved that story so much in college that I actually attempted to teach it to my American literature sophomores. I thought, you know, they were HONORS sophomores. They so. didn't. get. it. It was a crushing teaching defeat. But I love that story.

12:46 PM  
Blogger anniemcq said...

I don't know how I missed this - How could I miss that you visited the Clinton Library? I am so jealous! Now I know that we would be fast friends. Wouldn't it be wild if one day, say when your kids are old enough to vote, there were TWO Clinton libraries?! (I'm rooting for Barack, but I do love me some Hillary!) It sounds like you had a great trip.

4:26 PM  

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