You Can Go Home Again

I wake up every morning like a deep sea diver coming up for air, shooting to the surface of wakefulness. Sleep has been deep and pitch-black and all-consuming---the grateful sleep of a person who finds, with a sudden relief, that there are more of her loved ones in close proximity than not in close proximity---but the room is always flooded with sunlight when I wake, the blind deliberately left open the night before to guarantee it.  

I make coffee, pour cereal, toy with the idea of going to the gym. "Eh," shrugs my mother, "you can go to the gym in San Francisco."

"I know," I say, "but I feel like I should. It's only downstairs. And I brought my sneakers all the way to Singapore."

"You're on vacation!" she protests. "Stretch out in the sun. Read on the balcony. Swim in the pool. When do you do that in San Francisco?"

"Um," I say. "Never."

"Then do it here," she says. "Do that instead. Don't go to the gym."

I don't go to the gym. She's always right about everything else.

In the evenings we pile onto my parents' bed and settle back on pillows, the lights low. It's like family movie night except we're not watching movies, we're watching videotapes of homes in Southern California, tours my dad captured on camcorder while househunting for the next place my parents will live. Nice kitchen, we say. And oh, you could knock that wall down there. We call it Realtor TV, watching these tapes of other people's homes. It's like House Hunters but a hundred times better.


We're always drinking tea. We drink a lot of tea. First thing in the morning? Cup of tea. Just walked in the door? Cup of tea. Day got a "y" in it? Cup of tea. We're British; there's nothing a cup of tea cannot make better.

The best tea is the tea my dad makes, mostly last thing at night. Never underestimate how good a cup of tea will taste at eleven o'clock in the evening. It took me a long while to work out why my dad's tea always tasted the best, and then one day I watched him make it and he stirred each mug thoroughly after adding the milk and sugar. I always skipped the stirring; perhaps it was to my detriment. I stir now. His still tastes better.


"I'm leaving soon," I remind my mother. "Sunday."

"Sssshhhh," she says. "Don't talk about it."

I'm always leaving. I get somewhere only to leave it again.


When we're not watching Realtor TV, we're looking at house listings online. "When we live in California," says my mother. "How often will we see you?"

"Once a month?" I say. "It'll only be a six hour drive. Or you could fly. You can fly that route for about a hundred bucks now. Round trip."

"One month we can come to you," says my mother. "And the next month you can come to us."

We read the listings aloud to each other. Bonus room, we say. Fireplace. Dramatic staircase.

"Dramatic staircase!" I cackle. "Prone to weeping. Fits of hypochondria."

"Hellllooooooooooo!" says my mother, with a flamboyant sweep of her arm and an exaggerated bow of her head. "I'm the staircase! Welcome to the house! May I recommend the third step?"

I laugh so hard I can't breathe. The next morning I remember it and start laughing all over again.

Colleen Snell
May 29, 2008

Fabulous joke - love that kind of laughter. Made me smile today!

May 29, 2008

It's good to be close to family. My Mom is relocating to Seattle and honestly, I can't wait.

I'd totally watch Realtor TV!

May 29, 2008

This is some good writing right here.

May 29, 2008

I always love reading about your trips to Singapore.

May 29, 2008

This post made me laugh and made my heart ache at the same time. It's hard being so far away from family, isn't it? That seems to be one of those universal truths.

May 29, 2008

Gotta love being with family! I enjoy reading about your trips all over the world.

May 29, 2008

I love your posts about family. This is so poignant and endearing, without being at all overly written. Simple and elegant, with just the right touch of humor. It paints the moment better than a photograph.

May 29, 2008

It will be so so awesome when you live closer to your parents. How fun! Your mom sounds just delightful. And I laughed out loud at the 'dramatic staircase' bit. Funny Stuff.

May 29, 2008

Dramatic staircase - as seen on The Bachelor! Next up, the most dramatic staircase EVER!

May 29, 2008

I live twenty minutes away from my parents AND I work at their company, so I see them every day and hang out with them at least every other weekend... but I still hate leaving them and wish we could all just live on a farm together with a big communal kitchen.

May 29, 2008

Can I have your mother? I do need someone around here to make me feel better about playing hooky from the gym...

May 29, 2008

Your family seems like such a fun bunch...I too am glad your parents will be closeby soon!

May 29, 2008

This brings back the home sickness of my youth and makes me smile at the same time. My parents and I have never been on opposite sides of the world, but we've been far enough away from each other. On your behalf I am looking forward to your parents' move to California.

Carrie Lyn
May 29, 2008

This made me sigh and smile. . . I'm thousands of miles from my family and this post made me miss them. And it made me remember so clearly the bittersweet feeling that happens toward the end of the visit, knowing that I'm just waiting to leave.

May 29, 2008

that is a LOT of tea. i love these posts about your family - it's clear that there's a lot of love!

May 29, 2008

This was just perfect.

Camels & Chocolate
May 29, 2008

Awww, it will be so nice to have your family near you, after, what, like 17 years of living in different corners of the globe? I wish my family would move to California! That's the one thing this state is laughing. Miss you, enjoy your last few days!

May 29, 2008

I know there's already 4 kids in your family, and all, but would your mother consider adopting me? Please? Haven't you always wanted a big sister, one you're a lot prettier than? I'll share my shoes!

May 29, 2008

Woohoo, Southern California!

Please let your parents know if they are looking for another brunette daughter to drink tea with, I'll be right down Pacific Coast Highway. Plus, I come with a precious, blue-eyed toddler. Don't tell me they could deny Wito! ;)

May 29, 2008

This was so lovely. You captured so much in so few words. I love it!

P.S. I love your mom's "dramatic staircase" impersonation...hahaha

May 29, 2008

I laugh that way with my family, too. Love this post, your family sounds great.

May 29, 2008

I love your family; I really, really do.

No one in the world can make me laugh harder than my family. I miss them just reading this post and they only live 20 minutes away.

May 29, 2008

Oh, the comforts of home. We all pile onto our bed and watch TV in the evenings. For us, every night is movie night, except that there is also much reading of books and playing "fort" under the covers.

Awesome post. I want to try a cup of your dad's tea. Which brand does he use? Usually it's PG Tips or Ty-Phoo if you get English tea in these parts, but I'm dying to know which particular tea he uses.

May 29, 2008

Lovely post, as always. Can't wait to see you when you are home and recovered!

May 29, 2008

Your mom sounds like the best mom ever.

May 30, 2008

"Dramatic staircase" I love that and immediately envisioned something out of gone with the wind!

May 30, 2008

I wonder how your and your mum's "lady" schtick will go over in some swank, trendy cafe in L.A:

"HELLOOO!!" as you dramatically sweep in. "TWO LADIES FOR TEA!!!" John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston glance up and go "WTF..??"

Great post.

May 30, 2008

ah, sweet melancholly.

May 31, 2008

I always laugh when my Mum and Dad come to visit and we go through all my tea cups and coffee mugs (used for tea) within the space of an afternoon! It's ALWAYS tea time if you're British. Growing up if we heard my Mum's car on the drive we'd know to put the kettle on. It's a visceral reaction!

Jun 01, 2008

If you want to make it really exciting, while watching Realtor TV, take notice of every stray "orb" on the screen and every strange sound. Instant Ghost Hunters!! Although you may not want to look for ghosts in potential new houses.

Dramatic staircase -- hee!

holl's mom
Jun 02, 2008

Sizzle - when you said your mom's relocating to Seattle and you just can't wait..... is that because you live in Seattle?

Or because you live in the Florida keys??????????????

Jun 02, 2008

I love your family and am so happy for you that they will be in the same hemisphere as you soon. That will be totally awesome for you!

Sarah Brown
Jun 02, 2008

I just love it when you write about your family. For some reason it makes me feel closer to mine, which makes no sense.

Jun 02, 2008

I don't think I've commented before, but I'm a big fan, and this post made me so beautifully homesick for my family, even though they're just 45 minutes away from me. You capture it so well, and reading your site is always like reading the words of a friend who I'm lucky enough to see the mind of.

Jun 06, 2008

Your dad must use PG Tips in the pyramid bag. That is the only explanation.