There is never enough time.
There are too many people to see, too many conversations to have, too many things to do in the time you have available, and so you have to choose and hope that it works out okay and that maybe next time you’ll get to some of the things and people that you missed this time around.
I spent this past week in Philadelphia, visiting my mom.
Lauren and I drove out together, which was kind of nice – a last road trip together before she heads off to on her exchange program next year. Mostly we listened to music. I put her in charge of that. It was better for everyone that way.
We stopped in Pittsburgh overnight, visiting our friends Mike, Krista, and Eli. We always have a lovely time with them – dinner, conversation, and generally remembering once again that there are good people in the world even if there are too many miles between us.
We got to my mom’s on Monday afternoon and settled in.
At some point in your life there is a little switch in your head that flips and you say to yourself, “Huh. Genealogy. That sounds like fun.” I hit that point a while ago and fortunately my mom shares this interest. So I bought a little recorder and wrote up a list of questions that I cribbed from a couple of those reassuring books you can find online (Several Hundred Questions To Ask Your Relatives BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!) and we spent most of the week on that. I’d ask a question and sit back while she told stories about her life and her family – so many of them gone now, living on only in stories and memories. I had a grand time, and I’m looking forward to the next visit when we can continue this project.
Lauren has reached the age where she is fairly independent but the genealogy switch hasn’t flipped over yet, so one day I dropped her off at the commuter rail station and she spent the day wandering around Center City Philadelphia. It’s a strange thing to realize that your child is not really a child anymore – it’s a lesson that repeats as necessary and more frequently as they get older, though I suspect there will always be times when I need to be reminded even when she is my age now. She enjoyed her time there.
This is good, because we did manage to squeeze in one other visit in this trip. I’ve known Chris and Lori since my sophomore year of high school and had only seen them once each since the 1980s. It turned out that Chris and her husband Sjoerd were going to be in the area – visiting from Amsterdam, where they live – and Lori and much of her family where also going to be in the area, returning from a vacation and on their way back home to Virginia, and somehow the timing worked out for all of us to meet at the Liberty Bell on a hot Wednesday afternoon. Chris, Sjoerd, Lori, Lauren and I found a little coffee house and sat outside talking about family and giving tips to Lauren for her year abroad (Chris is an expat, Sjoerd a native, and Lori a former exchange student who ended up going to college there as well, so it worked out well). It was a lovely afternoon. Eventually Lori’s family joined us and we found a nice restaurant right on Washington Square for dinner and continued our conversations.
My brother and niece came down the next day and we hung out a bit – Sara and Lauren explored the nearby town center while Keith and I stayed with Mom – and we had dinner at the same place my parents had their 50th Anniversary party back in 2013.
But eventually the time comes around and Lauren, Sara, and I drove back to Wisconsin – a long and for the most part uneventful ride, though there were more imbeciles than usual around Chicago. We did make time to stop at the O in Pittsburgh for lunch. The best fries in the world are at the O. That’s a large. They used to have an extra-large, presumably for wedding receptions and the like.
We make the best of the time we have, and if we’re lucky we get to do more later.