Even though my entire life I never went for more than six weeks before visiting “back home”, to live here again is to be wide-eyed and observing every little difference, all minutae; from the pleasant vinegar-smell of the paneling mill in the west end to the mercurial weather which changes here from sunny and ringingly clear to overcast and grim; torrential rain and then balmy and clear again.
Today my mother took on Nels for a few hours this morning so I could go work out at the Y, which has been my savior in terms of getting some “me” time. And getting out of the house, and out of the communal space, and giving the kids a way to work out their sillies via “Busy Town” or the pool. Sophie started her first swim lessons here today – she missed the first session and today was put in the “pike” class. At 11:20 one hundred million little children splash into the pool. Once I figure out which pool my daughter is in, I slide over to the bleachers where a young mother is formula-feeding her very young infant. I blink a bit; I am not used to baby bottle-feeding. I sit next to her and observe a Spiderman towel in her bag so I say: “Oh, my daughter loves Spiderman. Where did you get that?” I ask, and “Walmart!” she chirpily answers (of course; and P.S. I just found out Hoquiam / Aberdeen’s one bookstore is closing). Further P.S. the day before in the Y’s daycare another little girl asked her Mama if my willowy, long-haired daughter was a girl or a boy: “A girl’s not supposed to wear a Spiderman shirt!” this four year old proclaimed. Groan.
People here make more eye contact, smile more. They talk louder and gawk more. Children are named “Madison” and “Tatum” instead of “River” and “Sage”. In the locker room post-swim I see many little boys running about and see they are circumcised; another cultural difference I will have to get used to (but probably not take statistics on, and as my dad asked later, “How old were these boys you were looking at?”).
Sophie showers off and gets a granola bar; we head home in the sunshine to a snack and then three-way nap.