Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Home...one of them

I kept messing up my words every time someone asked where I was going last weekend. Florida, Michigan, it seems like I'm constantly alternating between the two as the definition of "home" becomes more and more complicated. For this trip, my plane flew to the latter. It was just me and mom this time. I helped sort through the house, dividing everything into the good, the bad, and the good-but-not-good-enough-to-drag-hundreds-of-miles-south piles. On Friday, we labeled these leftovers at just a fraction of their original prices, piled them on wooden tables in the driveway and posted signs on the street that might as well have been an invitation for the lowliest of the neighborhood to get in their hoopdees and gather on our front lawn demanding that you give them that $2 set of plates purse for $1. That's right, we had a garage sale. And as much as I don't like shopping at them, I hate running them about ten times more. Seriously, if you can't cough up an extra quarter for that $1 purse, maybe you shouldn't be buying anything in the first place. And if you're driving a Lexus and want two of them for a dollar, I'm going to give you an extra dirty look. But we took what we could get and gave the extras to the next-door neighbors to sell in their own yard sale, including a gold-plated silverware set that their young son quickly claimed "for when he gets married." You know what they say about one person's trash.

That night, after a quick dinner with Lindsay and Trep, Carl, Michelle and I headed to downtown Royal Oak. Only on our way there, we decided to take a quick detour past the Magic Bag just in case the Mega 80s (the best cover band ever) was playing. The band's name spashed across the building's marquee, luck was on our side and we had a great time singing and dancing along to Journey, KISS, Devo, and lots of other goodies.

The next morning, after surviving a few more hours of haggling, we met Abbey's mom and sister for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cedar Gardens. Long Island, at least in my area, seriously lacks Mediterranean food, which is so big in Metro Detroit. Good hummus is hard to come by around here, so I definitely got my fill when I could. That night, we visited another favorite, Trattoria, a local Italian restaurant that has an unbeatable marinara. Not that I'm at all lacking in Italian food in New York, but there's just something about the food there.

On Sunday, we went to a family reunion for my mom's side of the family, the Rielis. Actually, we found out the spelling prior to my great grandparent's move to the states was Riili. Now, that's a lot of 'i's. We also learned the names of the Sicilian towns they grew up in: Cosimo in Aliminusa and Frances in Cerda. I'd love to visit there some day with my mom. Especially since the family still owns a bar and a gelateria side by side. You can't get much better than that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Florida house

So I haven't really talked too much about my parent's new house in detail. The last time I went to visit, they had just signed the paperwork. They've since moved in, and although the majority of their belongings are still sitting in Michigan, it looks really cute.

My mom in the kitchen

The front room

From the kitchen to the back room

The back room

And, my dad's favorite part, the pool

Monday, June 04, 2007

How do you measure a year?

Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary at the lab. I don't really know what to think of that. Is that a long time? Sometimes it feels like it, especially when I think back to my first few days here.

I remember my dad and I setting off for Long Island, him pulling a U-Haul trailer behind his van, me following in my Escort. Not 10 minutes later, I watch the doors of that trailer pop open and my wicker laundry basket full of sheets teeter and totter until it smashes onto I-94. Pulled off on the shoulder, I see my dad running back to salvage what he can in morning traffic. I remember driving quietly. Of course, there was no one I could talk to in the passenger seat, but even if there was, I don't think I would have said much; It's that kind of nervousness where the sounds of the radio float right through your ears and you can drive for miles without remembering a thing you passed.

I-80 in Jersey, exit 62, Abbey's apartment: I remember breathing again as we make the turnoff. It's the one familiar part of the trip. Abbey drives and Mason and Adam follow, increasing our caravan size to three. We cross the George Washington Bridge and I stare at the skyline, a sight that still amazes me. I hope it always will. Second bridge, the Throng's Neck: we stop suddenly just before the entrance. In the review mirror, my dad is waving around the EZpass borrowed from Mason. Like he's trying to squash a fly, he's pounding the rectangular device all around the inside of the windshield and then out the open window. He's panicking, and we're panicking because we can do nothing but sit and watch, and the toll gate remains closed. Finally, a guard walks over and we continue. We try to beat the sunset as we head down 347, but dark clouds rolling in quickly start to kill the light. The closer we get, the more I examine the surroundings, because that Chinese restaurant isn't just a random shop, it's going to be part of my new neighborhood.

As we pull into the apartment complex, it starts to rain. It's humid and hot, but the lights work in my bare, echoing apartment. The landlord has left the keys on the kitchen counter like he said he would. Raining turns to pouring as we start moving the numerous boxes up the stairs and plop them in any available free space. We're finally finished and drenched, and my helpers head back to Jersey before it gets too late. It's Thursday, and they have to work tomorrow. My dad and I get food at a Mexican restaurant down the street, the closest, open place either of us can remember from the ride in. I order a burrito. Too exhausted to put together any sort of furniture, I sleep on my mattress and my dad sleeps on the bed box. I remember these things in snippets, like they are all individual photos. I feel like they should be 4x6s in an album on my shelf, things that happened a long time ago.

But this year has happened so quickly. In ways I still feel like the "new girl" here. So many people I haven't met, so many things I haven't seen. Memories from home are still fresh. Fireworks at Memorial Park, talking with friends at the kitchen table, my brother's music blaring through the house: all of these things that I haven't experienced in years seem like just a few months ago. Yet this is the longest I've spent in one location in a really long time. So I wonder if my time here, or wherever I end up in the future will ever seem just "long" or "short," or if it will forever be the strange mix of in-between.