Thursday, August 13, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Dorothy was right. There is no place like home, where you feel good in your skin, where you know where everything is (well, where it's supposed to be), where your body curves into the mattress in just the right way, and the comforter brushes your face with cottony familiarity.

Home is where you know just how much to leave the window open at night for the coolest breeze or how many steps it takes to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Home is where the light switch is the just the right height, and everyone breathing softly in their own beds makes for your own peaceful sleep.

Home is where you fall asleep listening to crickets hum along with the sprinklers.

We are home from the UK. Wow. What a summer. It was a fast-paced, pound-the-pavement, do-everything-you-can kind of trip. A trip where you spent the money because it was a once in a lifetime. A trip where you'd wake up in the morning and say, "I'm in London, yes I'm in London. What's on today's agenda" . . . and then do it all over again the next day.

While in London, Leah memorized all the subway lines and how to get from point A to B. She studied the maps and put stickers on all the sites she's visited. She made more BFFs than a person should ever have. She touched the lives of 40 students by being a cute little girl who celebrated her 8th birthday with college students. She sobbed her eyes out when we had to say goodbye.

Nathan played soccer all the time, and improved his dribbling and passing by playing with the students. He learned all about rugby and went to several games. He learned where to get the best deal on a futbal jersey and how to haggle over it with the shop owner. He learned that it's OK to be bored sometimes, and how to entertain himself. He learned how to talk to adults, and look them in the eye with confidence.

Sammie made 40 new friends who treated her like she was one of them and not a 15-year old who was along for the ride. She saw what it takes to have fun and study for good grades. She had more fun than any one person should ever have in a summer. She learned how to be a loyal, caring friend.

Adrie got a 4.0 in her two classes and learned how to live in a dorm setting. She learned to manage her money well, and budget for what she wanted. She learned that her family is there for her no matter what, and we always have food even if the dorm servery doesn't!

Darren learned that he misses the great outdoors and could never live in a big city like London permanently. He learned that British history is fascinating but not the best subject to try to get through in 6 weeks. He learned that it's probably not the best idea to go abroad when you're chair of a university department. You just pile on your workload without the compensation. And you have so much work you can't get out to do all you want to do.

I learned that I can be a good friend and Mom to college-age students and that I relate well to them. I feel so good I was able to be helpful to them when they were sick, homesick, hormonal and sad. I learned that I love the theater, and that I have never been so moved when the music and theater combine together in just the right way.

It was the kind of experience we won't soon forget.

But there is no way to keep up with that kind of pace, even the most energetic types. No matter how glamorous or exciting the scenery and agenda, there's still nothing like opening up your own humble front door after crossing the ocean from other places. The dents in the wall don't look so big anymore. The carpet that needs cleaning still feels much softer than I remembered. The stairs, which used to seem so daunting, now appear like nothing compared to the 52 I had to climb to get to our flat in London.

Home is where the dishwasher humming means I don't have to wash dishes and the washing machine is always available. Home is where the kids are having water fights in the back yard, euphoric because they're with friends again.

Grocery shopping is easy and cheap. I don't have to carry them home. There is ice in abundance for every drink I want. Tap water doesn't cost money. Darren's garden has more tomatoes than we can ever eat. The raspberries and peaches are coming on. I'm gearing up to make jam.

Home feels good.

4 comments:

Suey said...

Welcome back! :)

Macy said...

So glad that you're back!!! I have loved reading your blog about all the great places you've been. I am glad that you're "home" is close to mine. :)

Trisha said...

Awesome blog! I have LOVED it!! Welcome home. I love this post--it's making me feel like I can't wait til next June--when we get home! (you're a great writer)I know that feeling, but I still can't wait until January. We'll probably take things a little slower. Especially becuse we'll be there during the school year. Thanks for all the posts and taking the time to write them. We'll have to do dinner when we get back next summer!

charlotte said...

Ellen,
I'm a little slow saying so, but I LOVED reading your blog, and I would add, there is not place like home. We loved our time in England, but home is great, possibly because family is there:). You truly fit a jillion wondrous things into your short time there. What a great summer for your family!!! Thanks for sharing!
Love, Aunt Charlotte