Having our sisters here is a special kind of visit, since family is probably the thing missed most by those living any distance from home. And since our younger sisters especially, now friends in their own right, bring out the crazy and quixotic aspects of our usually rather practical and sensible daily life, they are rather uplifting visitors with a close genetic match. I think it’s safe to say that neither Dave nor I underestimate the sacrifices they make by taking time off work, using their savings, and basing their choice of vacation destination on our rather random position on the globe at any given moment. As 22-year old globetrotters they both arrived in Crimmitschau, for crying out loud. The dilapidated train station in east Germany is hardly a welcome reminiscent of what an arrival in Cabo or Honolulu would be like. But they come anyway, to see us, have adventures with us, and fill up our tanks just as the chill of winter sets in. Our moms and dads have made similar journeys, packing lightly so they can fill their luggage with goodies for their offspring. How lucky we are.
We’ve also been graced by visits from those not biologically obliged to love us. As much as it means to have family make the journey to wherever we are, those who never changed our diapers or shared our last name get bonus points for making us a priority in their lives. Chad and Coco, Kevin and Nell to the Netherlands. Raquel and Adam, Jess and Matt, Carole and Evelyn to Germany. Rhett and Sarah to Bakersfield. Friends that braved airports and cold weather and used vacation days to see us, travel with us, make us feel loved.
Because I realize how hard it is to find the time, money and motivation to travel, it’s not that I value these friends more than those who haven’t had the ability, desire or chance to visit us. We do our best to make trips each summer to visit friends, attend weddings, become tourists instead of tour guides. And obviously we can’t make every trip we want to. We make choices, as much best we can, and hope people understand our constraints. But even as our time moving like gypsies grows shorter and comes closer to ending, it becomes clear that the homesickness and loneliness that living afar can bring will always creep in. And that the visits from friends and family help keep it at bay.
In another few weeks our next visitor, my friend Robin will arrive fresh off the plane from San Francisco. Christmas will be filled by friends and former teammates. A few weeks later Caitlin and Abby will arrive from England. All these visits make a milestone to look forward to, a happy mark on the calendar. But more than that, it gives us a chance to feel connected to our friends by showing them our daily life. Not just the cultural and historical sites of our current home, but also the day to day happenings of our lives. I really can’t explain what that means, the small stuff, the boring bits. The grocery store. The subway ride to work. Our new friends. By getting just a glimpse of these things, our visitors can feel that much closer to us when we talk to them next from thousands of miles away.
could be you: What did you do today?
me: Oh I went to Deli du Luca on my way home from work.
could be you: Did you buy those delicious whales?
me: YES! Yes I did.
I hope you get to know what that conversation means one day.