Rule #1: Be sure you are not placed on the end of any group photo.

My parents recently moved back to the area. Apparently the true 1%ers they have spent a lifetime trying not to be, they are now going to be snowbirds, (of a sort, still choosing rather atypical resting points.) As this move was getting closer everyone was asking me about it: Was I excited? Did I want to be closer to them? Was it going to be ‘too close’? I never really thought much about my answers. Of course I was glad, I have not lived within a reasonable driving distance of my parents since 1988 – at which point we were still living together. And after more than five years of a minimum of 18 hours of travel time to see them, I have been looking forward to easier parental access. Haven’t I?

Plus, if you know my parents, they are kind of The Shit.

Anyhow, along come the holidays… always an ass-kicking time at work and the days don’t just seem shorter because of the dark, I am convinced they really are shorter. Add to that, the family equation and life just gets busy. But it’s cool you know.

It makes for good material.

Unfortunately mom has taken to proclaiming that I am not allowed to write about certain things. Like my family. I can’t always tell which family things will get the kibosh and which will be okay, it seems kind of random. Okay, that is not entirely true, but I have to say I was getting seriously censored for a while. But, the way I am looking at it, their locality puts them back on the front page. I was willing to let slide many an opportune tale while they were up North, but now their mountain hiatus has come to an end.


I will make little mention of the navigational skill of the Ways-ie App, or my step-dad’s triple-protected new-new iPhone. I’m going to jump right into my Bridget Jones montage. [The Back to Future remake will be for a later installment.]

That pretty much sums it up. For the second time in two weeks, I was completely mal-attired and borrowing clothes in order to not be simply ridiculous – though as my aunt says, at least I did not show up in a bunny costume.

But barely. Visualize, if you will, my arrival: Jeans (7 for All Mankind, but still: JEANS) and motorcycle boots. And a cute black t-shirt. And I walk in and see my grandma all dressed up. For high tea in honor of her birthday with all of the ladies.

There were petit fours on the table for goodness sake.

I thought it was weird that my uncle wondered why I wasnt carrying anything with me when he picked me up at the train station. And my aunt asked me if I needed to hang anything up. I definitely did not get the memo. Suffice it to say that one more day would be spent in a state of awkward dress. [The irony that I spent years cultivating awkward style for family events is not lost on me. A particular outfit of blue and black plaid pants, blue suede boots, a fuchsia over-sized button down shirt over long-sleeved thermals and a fedora comes to mind.]

Back to now, the afternoon moved along into the evening… everyone else was dressed totally appropriately, not that I want to harp on this, or anything, but any thoughts that my Bridget moments were finished would be incorrect.

“So, do you have a love in your life?” I was asked.
“Umm, no, not at the moment.”
“Oh, the last time we saw each other I think you were with someone.”
“Yes, yes I was.” I say. [I want to say, ‘Yes, #3. He was the one who went to jail and led to Rule #1. What is Rule #1? See that picture over there? You see how it looks like I have a hand growing out of my abdomen? Yes, that is the effect of Rule #1: never find yourself on the end of any group photo. Excising (or exorcising) of anyone is made far too easy if you are on the end. That is what happened to #3. And you should see us jockey for position in the group photos these days.’]

I don’t say that.

“That can’t be the granddaughter?”
“Oh, no, this is A, not K…”
“Ahh, I see I knew it hadn’t been that long!”

In discussing my work with a really amazing couple they tell me they are in a Current Events Group, and that it is really fun “because everyone is a [whispers] Democrat.” I smile and explain that if it were not that way, “group” might not be the correct noun. “We probably shouldn’t talk about politics,” she whispers, shh-ing me.

Sitting down to eat, my step-dad and I get to talking. Somehow my (lack of a) love life comes up again. I am not bothered by this conversation, I know the discussion comes from a place of concern… or maybe that is the wrong word, but I am sure my parents just want for me what they’ve got. And truth be told, what they’ve got is awesome. But, still… I don’t really know why I why I don’t meet many people and etcetera and etcetera. [Not totally true: I don’t meet people because I work all the time and because most people my age [who are not categorically dysfunctional or insane] are happily married to rad people, or gay.]

By the end of the evening, my clothes faux pas (and my neglect in remembering to bring my camera), my obvious singleness, and my concern over mom being angsty about all of the above had faded. Partaking in a marathon goodbye (the length of the goodbye seems directly proportional to proximity) none of it seemed to matter. I was getting a ride home from my parents and the weekend was still young. I made a call to see about going out.

Maybe some things really are meant to stay the same.

Just be sure to get to the middle when the group photos commence.


About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in California, Chasing the Life I was Supposed to Want, Family, Home, Life, Silliness, true stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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