Sunday, July 8, 2012

On magic and silliness and Grandma and Pop-pop's house...

Despite the fact that I haven't posted on this blog in a disgustingly long time, my life has been moving right along. My trip to Ireland now resonates in a dream-like state, deep in the caverns of my brain where it's still too painful and fresh to visit and my "normal" day to day life has resumed. People keep asking me to describe my trip and tell them about my "favorite part" but I don't really find that I have words to do that yet because it wasn't a trip, really; it was a life that I had that was taken away a bit too soon and, quite frankly, there's only so long I can yammer on before people grow bored and weary of hearing of people and places they don't know. Life at home has been a trying experience thus far.

But despite the many trials and tribulations of being a depressed and whiny post-study abroad student, there are a lot of things I've noticed since I've been home that have made me stop and think about the crazy and beautiful world we live in...

The one thing that startled me most upon my arrival home was noticing how much my "baby" cousins have grown up since my departure. Six months isn't a very long time in the life of an adult but, I suppose, for a growing toddler/infant, half a year makes a much more significant difference. Who knew that I'd ever be able to have an actual conversation with two year old, Riley or a water gun fight with four year old, Connor? When on earth did baby Stella get too cool for little bunny foo foo and where did Emma get all of that long, blonde hair? My mind is blown with every moment I spend with my family these days and today was particularly special because it was Emma's first birthday party.

But one of the most interesting things for me was that, because my aunt and uncle have recently moved into my grandparents' house to look after my grandfather, the house that we all considered "Grandma and Pop-pop's" is now ALSO the house that all of these little ones consider "Grandma and Pop-pop's" as well. Going to visit Grandma and Pop-pop with my cousins used to carry a certain air of grandeur...the endless stretch of forest that lay beyond my grandfather's enormous vegetable garden and the mountainous boulders all along the windy driveway allowed us to be rock climbers, explorers, cowboys, and secret agents. For hours we would lose ourselves in games of man hunt and arguments over who had to help the little ones cross the stream. We never realized it then, but those long days, trekking through the woods together (anxiously awaiting the dinner that Grandma was cooking up back at the house) were the foundation of how close our family still is today. I know I can count on my cousins for anything, just like I could count on them to help me hobble from rock to rock across the stream all those years ago.

Wands don't cast spells and potions don't make people fall in love, but there is a certain type of magic that exists somewhere in the eyes of small children. A boulder becomes a mountain, a forest becomes a battle ground and Grandma and Pop-pop's house becomes a place of small enchantments that you can never quite comprehend.

And that's why, when everyone was laughing over how Connor announced that he didn't want to have his fifth birthday party at the bowling alley or the play-gym but, instead, with his cousins at his Grandma and Pop-pop's house, I had this overwhelming rush of nostalgia. That same house and that same forest have now become the magical playground for a younger, and more deserving, generation. It makes me feel so happy and fortunate to know that these children will come to know the old house that my Grandfather built so many years ago as their Grandma and Pop-pop's house and that they will be able to have their own adventures in the gardens on late summer afternoons. The magic that we once knew hasn't died or left, but has still been out there all along, just waiting to be woken.