My last minute trip to Washington was supposed to be a surprise but I had to tell my mom to make sure we’d have somewhere to stay as well as transportation to and from the airport. I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible for her to keep a secret because by the time I arrived in the states, the entire family knew I was on my way. Communication in my family is like playing a really, really bad version of the game “Telephone.” My mom can’t keep anything from her twin sister and it all just trickles on down from there. So, my big surprise was foiled with the exception of my dad’s sister, Sheryl.
Sheryl is unintentionally hilarious as she cries at pretty much everything. I pulled up to her house and her oldest son, David, came outside to greet me (though he was expecting my dad). The look of confusion on his face was awesome! I motioned for him not to say anything and he just looked at me funny, then turned around and went back in the house. Sheryl came out next and gave an Oscar-worthy performance that only she could be capable of. There was crying, jumping, more crying, exclamations and clapping and then more crying. I could not stop laughing and really wished I’d had a way to record the entire scene.
We went inside where Lena was smothered in hugs and kisses in between showing off her signature dance moves. For some reason, this is her meet and greet strategy. She just starts cutting a rug anytime we meet new people. I kind of wish I could do the same though I doubt it would be as cute for a 30-year-old mom to two-step at strangers.
My aunt is an incredible mom and has, hands down, the most polite and thoughtful sons and teenagers you will ever meet. Truly, these kids are amazing. Both the boys were adopted from Russia as babies and Sheryl has raised them on her own ever since. Anyone who meets them is struck by their impeccable manners. As soon as we were inside, they offered me something to drink, refilled their mom’s coffee and got to work finding toys for Lena to play with. I think my aunt should write a parenting book because she’s got it down.
My younger cousin, Andrew, was interested in checking out my camera so I let him go to town taking pictures. David thought it would be fun to go outside and take Lena for a ride in the wheelbarrow. Again, I was so impressed by him. He cleaned out the wheelbarrow and put down a towel so Lena would be comfortable. I’m pretty sure these boys could teach me a thing or two about hospitality.
After visiting my aunt, we stopped in at my old alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University. My cousin, Laila Eva, is in her first year there and it was really surreal to walk around campus with her. I’d forgotten how pretty it is in the springtime with all the blooming trees and flowers. There’s a joke that while on campus, you’re in the LuteDome. As soon as you go off campus, you find yourself smack dab in America’s armpit; also known as Parkland, Washington. It has to be one of the scuzziest towns in the country. Meth heads and pawn shops abound and there’s a general lack of pride in the homes and buildings. I remember that one of my Parkland neighbors had a broken down airplane in their front yard the entire time I went to school there.
Our visit with Laila was quick since it was our first day on a new schedule and the jet lag was pretty rough. I’m not sure what inspired my outfit that particular day and I kept apologizing to Laila Eva that she had to be seen with me. The girl is gorgeous, always dressed super stylish and could probably be a model. This day was no exception. Meanwhile, I had a serious mom look going on and felt like I’d been run over by a truck.
Laila’s always been like a little sister to me and since she’s eleven years younger, it’s hard for me to think of her as a college student. For one thing, that means I’m a solid 11 years out of college which is a little bit depressing. Additionally, that time has absolutely flown by and it scares me to think that another 11 years could pass that fast and Lena’s childhood will be practically over. Wah! Why must we grow up?!