Our last day in Texas was really nice. We got up early for breakfast and headed over to the Guenther House. The Guenther House belongs to the family of the founder of Pioneer Flour Mills and is right down the street from my uncle's house. The food was really wonderful (no pics, sorry), and so was the decor.
I found it immensely entertaining that the majority of the fireplace detail was ears of corn.
I loved the gigantic house made of sweets on display on the second floor.
Some fun facts about the candy house:
Ninety pounds of candy?!
We went to the gift shop on the third floor, and I saw these. They reminded me of someone:
I tried on a chef's hat and discovered that it was a good look for me.
After we'd had our fill of the Guenther House, we came back to Uncle Charles's, where Roy and I began the final stages of packing for our trip home. We had a couple of hours to kill afterwards, so we took a walk.
Roy is my absolute favorite person to walk with; for some reason we always have the absolute best conversations while we're on a walk. That day was no exception. We walked and talked and admired several cranes in flight.
The ducks were endlessly entertaining but not very social.
We drove down to another part of the river and walked around. It was all very quiet and peaceful, a very nice thing to experience at the end of such a hectic trip.
And soon it was off to the airport, where we boarded our flight to Phoenix. For some reason, Roy and I were assigned seats at opposite ends of the plane, but I was able to use my charms to convince the guy who was originally sitting next to me to switch seats with Roy.
I had been feeling good all day (pain/pressure-wise and cold-wise), but the cold symptoms got pretty bad on our flights due to the change in altitude. Once we were back in California, I was feeling pretty crummy. Roy's uncle and grandfather picked us up from the airport and took us home. We were both really happy to be back.
Our trip was very much a mixed bag. I had really high hopes for it, and it just didn't turn out the way I expected it to. I always tend to forget that family complicates things in unexpected ways. But it was really nice to be able to spend some time with my people, because our time together is always so limited.
I came back from our trip with the notion that in many ways, it seems easier to have a relationship with my family from a distance. There's less dealing with my mom's anxiety; there's less facing of the reality that my dad is not a well man. It's not that I want to live my life in a state of denial, but the distance often helps me to deal with the aspects of my family that are less-than-thrilling, not to mention those parts that are painful.
My time in California, away from my family, has (obviously) yielded a life that is completely separate and totally different from the one I had in Texas. In my late teens and early 20s, before I moved away, I had the distinct feeling that I was not living life on my own terms. I also often felt that there was no real place for me, nowhere that I actually fit in.
I've come to realize that there's probably no perfect place that will fit a person exactly as they need to be fitted every moment. But there are people who fit you. They're like a favorite pair of old jeans, a comfy sweater, or those days where you can watch the rain fall outside. They're flawed, but ultimately they get you in a way that can never be explained or completely understood. They know you.
People are what make a place home. I've got a home in Texas, and I've got a home in California. I've got two families, neither of which is perfect, and frankly, I love them despite (and because of) their imperfections.
But it's love that makes things so damn hard. It's love that makes my heart ache for my mom when she's away (even though I know she will drive me crazy the next time we see each other). It's love that makes me think of my dad and wonder if he'll remember my name the next time we see each other (even though I know he will probably say something thoughtless that will hurt my feelings). I cannot divorce myself of this love any more than I can separate myself from the place I grew up. I cannot stop the pain that comes from loving other people so much, and I cannot escape the problematic past I left behind in Texas when I moved away years ago.
To think that I could come to some sort of peaceful resolution by having every aspect of our Christmas trip fall into place was naive of me. Not because I didn't plan for the unexpected, but because peace is often elusive - it's rare to find oneself standing at the top of the Mountain of Clarity. Life is muddled and complicated, but ultimately this has been one hell of a crazy ride that I want to experience for many years to come, dysfunctional families and overwhelming love and all.