16 September 2009

what else I did on my summer vacation

I decided to say the heck with the kreppa and go all-out with my summer vacation, so I spent 3 weeks away during the month of August. The last week of the month I went to Martha's Vineyard (yeah, I booked my trip before Obama decided to be there at the same time) to see my parents, brothers, and my nephews that I last saw in 2007. Since then, my brother and his wife also bought one of the little houses, so the week was spent strolling between houses, eating tons of fresh seasonal produce (how good is the CORN this year?), scallops, and sausages (Portuguese and Italian varieties), and my favorite sweet bread.

There was plenty of nephew time, in the form of crab-fishing, bicycling, puzzle-doing, wave-wading, and all the other summer activities that small people like best. For the grown-ups, there was porch-sitting (as my brother said, this is one of the only places he can think of where people sit in rockers on their front porches completely unironically), dinners together, and lots of reading. As is usual with such a large group, it's hard to have intense quality time one-on-one but it is of course tremendous to be able to see so much family in one place, to be the group with the really long table at a restaurant that's passing plates back and forth as meals are shared and sampled.

The last day, my parents and I went off-island around midday through the snapping fresh air that had just turned to fall, and just past the Bourne bridge we turned off the highway for a last-stop stockup at my favorite American store, TJ Maxx. Even with the brave new world I live in with this drastically changed exchange rate, the prices of clothing are better in the US than they are in Iceland. Plus, the bargain-hunting is much more sporting in the US than in Iceland. I stocked up for autumn with a new coat and fuzzy sweaters, and then armed with our sandwiches purchased earlier in the day, my parents and I followed the checkout lady's instructions to the closest beach. There, we soaked up the early autumn sun and the peace of post back-to-school beaches before completing the last stretch to Boston. Arriving early, we continued further north from the airport and along the way to Deer Island we simply pulled down a side street and sat in the long sunset light, watching the boat traffic and the planes coming and going.

We had dinner together in the usual spot near the security gate of Terminal E, and then it was time to go. Every time I leave my family in the US I am melancholy for a few days, lost in the rhythm of Icelandic life, asea in the different weather and the non-American people. It's hard to decide where I best belong sometimes. America's familiar and comfortable but it's almost too comfortable. When I came back to the airport and joined the cluster of late-night flight departers, I did feel a certain return to alertness, listening in for new and different languages, inspecting unfamiliar styles of clothing, of luggage, of different European-style family dynamics. Departing from family is always so hard but it also feels at times like I've got the best of both worlds, to be able to spend time with my family in such a lovely place and also be able to live and travel in all these other lovely places. It's quite certain that we can't have everything in life but sometimes it does feel like I'm awfully close.

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