In (nearly) perpetually sunny Los Angeles, it is easy to lose track of time and even place. Our seasonal markers are as subtle as a shift of shadows' length or the floral scent of a minor breeze, and if it weren't for all the palm trees wrapped in lights and other assorted decorations one would never be able to tell that it is nearly Christmas.
Today is a day of wrapping up. I taught my final classes1 of 2014 early this morning, did my due diligence as an adult at the DMV2, bought toilet paper and hand soap, confirmed pick up time at the airport with my dear dad, confirmed very important almond milk stockage with my sister, did heaps of laundry, and packed my small purple suitcase with the cheerfully striped silk lining. I have spent so much time traveling back and forth to and from Massachusetts over the past couple of years that I have gotten packing down to an art. I, a shocking packrat of a girl if ever there was one, am able to travel cross country with nothing but a carryon. Let me tell you, friends: that is no small miracle.
I am always surprised by my effortless productivity when I actually make up my mind to just do the damn thing already. Those boring things that I think will take ages simply, well, take almost no time at all. Generally speaking I spend a week before I travel knotted up with anxiety and apprehension, building impossibly long lists of things I need to get done and even longer lists of reasons why I cannot possibly manage, and then I inevitably leave all my undone tasks to the very last day. That last day before traveling is when I am suddenly filled with an easy calm, a little skip in my step, a natural buoyancy of spirit. Being right on the precipice of a voyage, as opposed to merely near it, thrills me.
I cannot wait to see my three darling nephews, and am already plotting what classic film from my childhood I will force them to watch with me this year3. I cannot wait to see my lovely sister who truly is my soul twin4. I cannot wait to feel crisp air on my skin and cover myself with layers of sweaters and coats and thick-soled rubber boots. I cannot wait.
Of course, I am looking forward to seeing my mother in the sense that I am looking forward to hugging her and seeing her smile and telling her I love her and making sure she feels loved. But as ever when I am headed home, I am apprehensive of how far the illness will have progressed since the last time I saw her, and how that will feel to see. Still, I am much, much calmer about it this time around. Knowing that she is happy at her assisted living home and happy in her haze and so very well cared for provides such a sense of peace and relief. Last year Christmas at my sister's house was already much too much stress and bustle for her, so I know that this is best, and even if she won't be with us on the morning of we will visit her that afternoon, and she will be happier for having missed all the presents being unwrapped around the tree. Odd, but true. Just like the rest of life on earth.
1 I teach at the Bar Method Los Angeles studios, mostly at West Hollywood and West LA.↩
2 what I did there really is far too dull to mention.↩
3 last year was Labyrinth, so this year I am thinking The Princess Bride and/or The Dark Crystal. ↩
4 fraternal twins, as we are opposites in so very many ways, but soul twins none-the-less.↩