Quieter, Messier

The house seems so quiet, and a little bit messier too.

Saturday morning I dragged my sister's suitcase to the inside of the American Airlines terminal, hoped that her flight to Chicago would be one of the thousands canceled, and then sighed with disappointment when I found that it was not. I managed to hold back my tears until she had to go through the first security checkpoint. Ticketless, I could not follow her.

Don't you miss those pre-September 11th days when you could hug someone goodbye at the gate and then watch them walk onto the plane? After so many years of War on Terror "safety" measures, it still feels inadequate to only be able to wave goodbye as someone ascends an escalator and yells down, "You better not cry!"

Her words were too late, because as she now knows, I cry over everything that touches my heart these days. And so I tried to cover my face. I felt embarrassed to be crying so much in an airport terminal with harried passengers shoving past me to get to the self-service check-in kiosks and the security guards looking at me like I was a cause for concern. Doesn't anybody cry anymore when they say goodbye? Or are we all too used to gruffly kicking someone out of our cars at the curb and then getting on with our busy lives?

I cried until I got back to where where my car should have been in the parking garage. It was gone. I stood in the garage thinking, "Great. Someone stole my car."

I pulled out my cell phone and debated who I should call first. I just couldn't believe it. I mean, who the hell steals an 11 year-old car? I paced back and forth for a few more moments, thought about how I wasn't going to cry again because tears don't solve stuff like a stolen car -- and then I suddenly realized I was on the wrong garage level. Whew. I took the elevator down one level, and thankfully, there was my car, complete with it's beloved scrapes and dings.

I took surface streets home, driving north on La Cienega Boulevard. I turned down the music to see if I could hear the creak of the oil pumps that are ever churning in the dusty hills. I passed the Target on Rodeo Road and considered stopping and engaging in some mindless shopping to take my mind off not having my sister here anymore. After all, I could always use more lipstick and house plants. But I was in the wrong lane for a left turn into the parking lot, so I headed up Fairfax to Beverly, cranking up my air conditioner as I drove. It was already so devilishly hot by 9 am.

The time in the car made me realize that I wasn't crying just because my sister was gone. It's that I shared a room with her when we were little and I know why she cried as a child and as a teenager. I know if she were a bitter and angry woman, that wouldn't be unreasonable. But she's not. She's so considerate and has such a good heart. Sure, she has problems like anyone and she's not perfect, but she's never said she is.

And I know I cried because it's so rare that anyone I'm related to comes to visit just to see us. I get those that ring me up to say, "Oh, I'm going to be in town for work and I have an hour or two free." Not that I don't appreciate that, but it's different when you know someone decides to take a trip just to see you. I'll put it out there and admit that it makes me sad that I have been here for ten years and my mother has never come to visit. Nobody from my husband's family has ever come visit either. Sometimes it feels like it's about more than fear of getting on planes, more than the cost of a plane ticket. It would be a shame if the first time my mother has to come to California is, God forbid, for my funeral. I hope that does not end up being the case, but we never know if we're promised tomorrow.

And so I drove home through the boiling streets of Los Angeles and before I knew it, I was back to a house that felt too silent.

My sister's running shoes are in the hallway outside my door. She accidentally picked up my pair and left hers here. I promised to mail them to her but she'll probably go buy a new pair before I even get to the post office. Maybe I'll keep her shoes here in anticipation of her next visit.


Anonymous said…
I found your blog on Lola's blogroll. I feel your pain regaring family visits. I've lived in San Francisco for 5 years and unless I fly back home, I see no one.

What's interesting is how I get chastised when I don't visit and folks don't see the irony in what they are saying.
Lisa Blah Blah said…
I really feel for you and I'm so glad your sister was able to come out and have a nice long visit with you.

I'm sorry your mom has yet to visit. I know that is painful. My mother hasn't visited me since 2002 and she lives 45 minutes away. My daughter is 5 and my mom has never made it to one of her birthday parties. So for some people, distance makes not a whit of difference! And like Danielle (above), I get flak for not visiting more often.
Liz Dwyer said…
Glad you came by from Lola's. I need to go say "hey" to her and see what she's up to! I also get some of that irony or else I get, "Why don't you just move back here?" -- which is probably not happening any time soon!

I SO understand what you mean about folks only being 45 minutes away and not visiting. How do you deal with that? And what do you tell your little girl about why grandma doesn't ever come over? That's why I don't feel ridiculously guilty about living out here in California. It's not like my family hangs out with each other all that much at home, unfortunately.
Anonymous said…
Yes, what's wrong with crying when you say goodbye? Has the stiff upper lip taken over or what? Why not show your emotions if you want? It's a shame your family never come to visit, do they disapprove of your lifestyle? Jenny and I have the opposite problem, our mothers are always keen to visit but they can get a bit too much!
thailandchani said…
I'm so with you on all of this. At least you get the "I have a few hours free" rap. Prior to my complete estrangement from my family, I used to hear after the fact that they'd come through the city where I was living.. and didn't even call.

But I can tell you that I cry when I have to say goodbye to one of my friends. It comes with the friend territory.
BlackLiterature said…
I moved from the Bay to Charlotte a few years ago. I cry every time I leave home and every time someone from home leave me.

There is no shame in my game. These are the people and places that I love. ;-) And they love me back!
Anonymous said…
Oh sisters. I am so very glad you had a nice trip. Hurray for that. I always park my car at the meter lot because I can never find it at LAX.

I get the visit thing that Danielle is talking about. My family won't visit - only my little sister. My little sister will come visit IF (and only IF) I pay for her ticket, and her children's ticket, then take care of her and the kids all weekend with thousands of dollars worth of events, presents, and food. I mention the money because, while I don't care, it's all she cares about. It sucks. And breaks my heart.


I remain delighted the trip with your sister went well.
1969 said…
Awww...you are gonna have me tearing up over here. *sniff*

I am so glad you had that special time with your sister.

When I moved away from home, my mom never visited me. It hurt me too. You would think the grandkids would draw them out. I finally called her and told her. Do you think that would help?
red said…
I hope you're feeling better today. Is there some kind of LA effect that stops people from visiting? The Major and I have always had plenty of visitors wherever we've lived, but our next destination is L.A. and it's quite surprising the number of people who've laready said they won't be making the trip to see us. Oh well.
Liz Dwyer said…
I think some folks believe crying is a selfish thing and see it as being negative.

As far as folks not coming to visit -- I don't think folks disapprove of my lifestyle (gosh, what is my lifestyle??) I try not to read into it too much but it does hurt when I let myself think about it. Some relatives say they're too busy. Other folks flat out lie and say, "Yeah, I should come out to visit," -- and then they never do. Gosh, it's so complicated. I could totally go to therapy over this issue alone.

That's so cruel for them to not even call you. How do you deal with that? The issue of family members who are estranged from each other, dislike each other and/or do not speak is a hard one for me. It's so prevalent in my family. In my family there's a trend where folks get upset with each other and then just stop speaking. The the person might as well not exist, and everyone acts like their "side" is the right side. And of course this is not to say that folks don't do legitimately hurtful things to each other, because they do. I just think about how there are so many relatives I don't know or barely know because of things that went down ages ago.

I'm so glad you're so loved. I cry everytime I leave home too. --I was just thinking today about how much I miss being up in the Bay Area. It's so beautiful there.

I'm usually really good about remembering where my car is parked (I'm very spatial/visual) but I was really crying so rational thought was a bit absent!

Why do so many of us have relatives that won't visit? What's up with that? It makes me feel sad that you have to do all this for your sister and that it's all your sister cares about. It's pricey to fly everybody cross country and definitely getting cheaper for one or two relatives to come here and see us instead. But it is what it is.

I wish calling and saying that it hurts would make a difference, but it really doesn't. But I want my kids to see everybody so I'm plotting to take the kids back to the midwest this summer for a few weeks. They haven't seen my husband's side of the family or my mom for two years. I tell my kids that everybody loves them but that it's just hard to get together. I feel like such a liar though.

I am feeling better now. Thanks for asking. You're coming to LA? When? That is VERY exciting! Move to Silver Lake/Los Feliz!

Anyway, I don't know what the deal is but folks do act like coming to LA is the traveling equivalent of going to Mars. California might as well be another country. The funny thing is that everybody who comes out has an amazing time here and then suddenly understands why I don't leave.
Jen said…
I'm so glad you had such a lovely visit with your sister. I cry in airports all the time - we've had five exchange students over the year, who are definitely part of the family now, and we cry when they arrive to visit and cry and cry when they leave. And yes, I liked it so much better when we could see them get on the plane.

I hope you can see each other soon. And I like keeping some things around for the return visits - she won't have to pack her running shoes next time! I have a bathmat that I keep for my mom and a gloves , hat and scarf set that I keep for my Swedish "daughter" and my Japanese "daughter's" Winnie the Pooh doll is here, too.
Anonymous said…
I'm crying a bit and I'm going to check for flights right now and go visit my sister in California.

Thank you l.a. I don't know what's been stopping me.
Anonymous said…
I miss you and love you - your blog made me cry (but not in public). Keep my shoes I already bought a new pair and besides I can use them next time I come see you!!!!
Haute in LA said…
Awww, first of all: YOU MADE ME CRY! Yesterday I had to wave goodbye to my mommy and daddy and I cried like a baby. My mom called from her cell and said "are you crying?" I said "of course I am, I miss you already." It's hard living the LA life and only seeing those that you love the most every once in awhile.

I also cried because my sister and I shared a room too. She's four years older than me and a stay at home mother of 3. But thress weeks ago she told her husband "I can't take it anymore. I need to see my Soo Soo." He booked the flight right then and there! She called me, we squealed for joy, and then she got choked up. I heard it in her voice and I cried too. Sisters are the best!

How do I always end up writing an entire blog in your comments section?
Haute in LA said…
sorry for double comments, I just read all the others and ITA! "Why don't you move back?" Argggghh.

I recently came to the realization that my best friend of 17 years may not really be my BFF. Our season seems to be up b/c after living here for four years, and her cancelling a trip here for my BIRTHDAY with very little apology, she can't really be a true friend of mine. It takes as much for me to come that as it does for ANYONE to come here.
Mamita Umita said…
At least you know what its like to miss your family! My parents are here, my boyfriends family is here - there is no reason to cry except that we want them to LEAVE!
Liz Dwyer said…
I have always wanted to host exchange students. I think my parents did for a little bit and didn't have a great experience with theirs but I can't wait to do that. I hope we can see each other soon, too. The good thing is time is flying and it'll be summer before I know it!

I'm so glad you're going to go see your sister now! Good for you and for her! I think sometimes we forget that we aren't promised forever with folks and even if our folks are spread out all over the country, we can't let too much time pass without connecting.

Oh, I love you too. :) You mean you didn't let Lance see your tears? Darn it! Just be glad you didn't go see Atonement with me. I was just gonna take your shoes to the post office. Can you come back so my insomnia will disappear again and so I can play my funeral song for you again and cry over that? And I need someone to go evade mountain lions with. Sigh.

Write as much as you want in my comments! That's so sweet that your mom called and asked if you were crying. Aww! That's the best! I can't wait till my boys get older and I can be that mom that comes to help them decorate their first bachelor pad. They'll probably be sneaking around pretending they're not home when I call! And great that your sister is coming to visit! I'm sure you two will have a wonderful time. Sisters are the best -- I'm glad I get along with mine. There's such a big age difference with us that I suppose we could end up not getting along but we do. Weird about your friend not coming out. But I suppose that happens. Some folks can't deal with keeping up with folks that aren't right in front of them.
Liz Dwyer said…
LOL! Oh that is so funny! They're all up in your kool-aid, hanging out forever! Gotta love it. -- And that'll probably be me in the future with the kids.
Brianna said…
man, this brought tears to my eyes! I feel like i need to go call my sister immediately.
Liz Dwyer said…
Hope y'all had a good talk! Your sister is totally beautiful just like you! It runs in the genes! :)
Unknown said…
My Sis only lives 150 miles away in Champaign ~ and we are bad as well, and we cry as we drive off waving until one of us almost has a car accident!

Life is SO short and we LOVE our peeps, so how can we get it all together???

Glad you all had fun!! I sure do miss those days of watching the airplanes take off waving like an idiot as if they can see you!! LOL!

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