The beach is one of our favorite places to be, and it's even better when we get to be in Virginia to enjoy it.
Monday, the day that lasted 3 days, brought us from Chennai to Dulles, and what a welcome break from the last 2 years of "making do" and running on a sense of humor and a side order of patience. Life in the U.S. is easy. I know many (many, many, many) people would disagree with that, and even more would like to say something about how easy our lives are overseas (that cook and driver thing), but really the U.S. has so much and is so -convenient- we can't help but stare in wonder and find a thrill in things some would consider annoyances. All those roads, all those cars, waiting in a checkout line... we see organized highway systems, considerate drivers and a checkout line filled with orderly people in a store that has just about everything one could need.
Yup, we love being home.
In a couple weeks we head back to India and it will be our first time doing this long trip only to go back to the same post. It will be different this time, every other time we've gotten over jetlag in a largely empty house, lived out of suitcases, clueless about how to get around. This time our cats will be quite angry with us and I changed all the bed sheets before we left so we'll return to a cozy home and a familiar city with friends nearby. School starts on the 6th, I start work on the 13th, we won't be discombobulated (but for that jetlag thing). It'll be wonderful.
Meanwhile, we're here in Virginia. Shopping has been a top priority, but that came after surprising the girls and the boys. We told the boys we were coming to the States about an hour before we left for the airport. With a flight at 2 a.m. we had to let them in on the surprise at some point before they changed into PJs and went to bed. They were quite happy to get on the plane as I'd been hearing for the past week how they missed their sisters and wished they could be in Virginia too. The two didn't always coincide, sometimes they just wanted to go to Virginia, sisters or not. They just wished we flew business class.
The girls didn't know we were coming. My folks made up some excuse to bring them to the airport and we were right on time. They spent the prior 3 weeks taking their fencing class, visiting with Babcia, shopping, swimming, and eating out. Goodness, they ate out quite a bit. This past week with us we spent the 4th on the Mall, did more shopping and eating out, saw "Ratatouille" (cute, but wait for the DVD). We also had Ian's birthday on the 3rd and my birthday on the 8th, made better by finally catching up with our friend, Jeff, whose birthday is on the 5th. Whenever we're all in the same town together we go out for a birthday dinner and this year we continued the tradition.
Familiarity is a wonderful thing. Even better is the sense of being able to breathe, both physically and emotionally. Driving down open roads with the windows open, not having to think every minute of the day about people on the road/on your property/in your house (people not related to you), inhaling clean air that smells like leaves or grass or sunshine or nothing at all, sitting by the ocean without feeling self-conscious, walking on a maintained sidewalk and talking freely. India is an amazing country and at the same time overwhelming to all the senses, it takes energy and focus no matter what you're trying to achieve. At home in Virginia we can just be. It's a priceless feeling.