Sojourners in a Familiar Land

I got up early this morning.

5:30AM, to be exact. Which is four and a half hours earlier than I like to awake.

But I had faith that it would be worth the trouble.

Then I boarded a plane and took my place between two slightly odd people engrossed in their iPads. The lady to my right was reading a “supernatural mystery romance”, as she told me. The man to my left was more secretive, but from peering over his lap I deduced that his reading material was either a historical proof of Christ’s existence, or a refutation of a Neo-Platonist interpretation of Scripture.

And I, wedged between them, clutched my worn paperback of Dorothy Sayers and pretended that I was not resisting sleep.

But I held out the hope that such suffering would not go unrewarded.

My hopes were not unfounded:

My family greeted me when I landed.

Thus, today has been filled with wonderful, beautiful moments.

  • Incessant hugs

Little sisters are amazing. They not only decorated the house for my homecoming, but they proceeded to clamp onto me and make sure I knew how much I was missed. We spent two and half hours frolicking in the pool before the employed siblings began to trickle home.

  • Rain Dancing

No sooner were we dry from the pool, it began to rain. So I and the small ones ran into the driveway where we spun about and chased the steam rising off of the hot black top.

Then I dragged my fifteen year old brother, (brother #3,) out and proceeded to teach him the basics of swing dancing. In the rain. He was very obliging and sweet.

  • Amazing Dinner

I always forget that my mother is not simply a great cook: she is a genius at matching the food to the weather. And in the hot, humid, pre-storm evening, we had a spinach, chicken, feta and strawberry salad, fruit salsa, and raisin muffins. With  homemade lemon sorbet as dessert.

It was to die for. Should I ever need a “Last Meal”, this would be it.

  • Mojitos

My beautiful sister Calliope is taking bartending lessons. I had not known this. But this means she must practice almost every night.

Oh, darn.

  • Discussion

Calliope and I sat on the porch after the rain dancing and had a beautiful sisterly rambling. She claims that she is no longer my baby sister. I disagree.

Over dinner the family  conversation ranged from Theological implications of the seven days of Creation to the intrinsic value of ice cream. and thunderstorms.

  • Dates

I poked brother #2 until he agreed to take me on a date to the movies.

Then brother #1, the last sibling still distant, (he has to hike the Grand Canyon,  the jerk poor dear,) called and talked with me for thirty minutes with fraternal affection! I used have to work to get him to stay on the phone for two minutes!

It has been a wonderful first day back, full of comfort and adventure.

In fact, it reminds me of a passage from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.

“I have often had a fancy for writing a romance about an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas. I always find, however, that I am either too busy or too lazy to write this fine work, so I may as well give it away for the purposes of philosophical illustration. There will probably be a general impression that the man who landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton, felt rather a fool. I am not here concerned to deny that he looked a fool. But if you imagine that he felt a fool, or at any rate that the sense of folly was his sole or his dominant emotion, then you have not studied with sufficient delicacy the rich romantic nature of the hero of this tale. His mistake was really a most enviable mistake; and he knew it, if he was the man I take him for. What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again? What could be better than to have all the fun of discovering South Africa without the disgusting necessity of landing there? What could be more glorious than to brace one’s self up to discover New South Wales and then realize, with a gush of happy tears, that it was really old South Wales. This at least seems to me the main problem for philosophers, and is in a manner the main problem of this book. How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? How can this queer cosmic town, with its many-legged citizens, with its monstrous and ancient lamps, how can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town?”

And this was feeling that overwhelms me on my homecoming. May all travels end so gloriously!

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7 thoughts on “Sojourners in a Familiar Land

  1. Matching meals to the weather is an amazing and oh so important skill. So is bartending. I’m happy that your trip was so great, it was fun to read about, and made me look forward to my own trip to the East Coast after being in Texas for many months.

  2. Pingback: Oh My Gosh. There are FISH in my hair! « Egotist's Club

  3. With all due respect, my own baby sister–who is now married with two small daughters of her own–is still my baby sister. There are some things that no amount of time can change. 😉

    This is a beautiful paean to family. And I love that Chesterton quote. I love pretty much every word of Orthodoxy.

    Happy family days!

    • Well, with two little sisters yet under HER, I can sort of understand why she does like to be called my baby sister. But I still count them all as my baby sisters!

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