Home for the Holidays, and to Ring in 2012

All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

– Helen Hunt Jackson, “New Year’s Morning”

This is the first time in the last 3 years that I’ve come home to Philly for the Christmas holidays. Strange to see my parents in winter clothing, but great to snuggle up in my warm bed with the heavy blankets just as I remember them from when I was young. Everything was as I left it at the end of summer – my room, my books, the invasion of cats.

I bought my dad a cardboard airplane construction set for kicks and he set right to work, exactly the way I imagined he would — peering over his glasses with a disgruntled look of complete concentration, the same way he reads the newspaper, pores over maps, the way he used to help build my science projects:

The finished product. Look at that happy face; I should get him a whole set of cardboard cut-out vehicles.

Being home is also the time of cat abuse. Preferably, George.

Seeing people I hadn’t seen in a looong time. Mook 🙂

Some food I hadn’t seen in a long time:

A visit to one of my favorite neighborhoods, Olde City:

And my favorite bookstore:

A family trip to New York City to check out the 9/11 memorial:

The subtext to this photo: “Yeaaaaaaaaayy!”

A rollerblader in Battery Park.

Inside the memorial, which consists of two huge steel pools where the blueprint of the two WTC buildings used to be. Water falls continuously from all four sides of the pool in thin sheets onto a shallow pool floor, only to fall into an abyss-like hole in the very middle of the structure, whose depths are impossible to gauge. Inscribed in steel all along the sides of each pool are the names of those who died that day.

We walked on over to Chinatown for some dimsum, and then went to check out the High Line on the west side:

We rang in the New Year the traditional way: at a house party taking shots and singing karaoke:

This video is pretty typical of drunken encounters, but there’s something great about it since Tori Amos’s “Pretty Good Year” was coincidentally playing in the background: photo.php?v=10150450887136814

I think I’ve had some good closure to 2011. Some much-needed conversations, some stirring up and settling down, seeing faces that have always been familiar and close to me while growing up. I haven’t made too many resolutions, but I guess I should. I’ve promised to be better at keeping in touch and at writing letters – things that when we were younger, unattached, and unburdened by adult life, seemed so easy to accomplish. New year, new decisions. Or at least feeling again that my life is imbued with choice.

Some things, like hardy bargling with my tumor twin, will never change:

(Subtext to this photo: “Men, men, men, menmen, menmen, men, men…”)

Tomorrow I fly back to Madrid! Hopefully I’ll get over this miserable cold…

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Home Sweet Home

It’s been a week since I’ve arrived in Philly, a week of relaxation, food, and … the swine flu. The doctor told me that I probably contracted it on the plane. Health benefits here are shit; it seems like you have to either have a lot of money or a lot of time on your hands to recover from being sick. I think they’re making a big fuss over this swine flu thing. My sister told me they should put me in quarantine because it could be highly contagious. Well a lot of people die from the normal flu, which is also highly contagious.

Anyway, I’ve eaten my first Johnny Rockets hamburger, I went to dim sum with my parents, and I’m going to eat my first Philly cheesesteak very soon, I hope…

I like being at home and having creature comforts, but sometimes it’s a bit boring, especially without a car. When you haven’t been at home in a long time, you always think about the things you have there, but once you’re there, suddenly everything becomes normal after a day. And once you arrive, the last couple of months that you’ve been abroad seem so surreal…