Eight more days. Just eight more until I fly back to Washington. I can do this. I can make every last second of dry sunshine and rolling brown hills and spider web infused mountain air count, I think as I begin another slow day of cooking, lounging, and cuddling with two dirty dogs.
When this countdown began I had just purchased my plane ticket in our tiny hotel room in Helsinki, just four days into a vacation that I had been bragging about for an entire year. For some strange reason, I couldn’t wait to get back to my new Washington home; back to my drama and lonely days. Skipping right over the excitement to relish every second of delicately prepared reindeer meat and scenery so spectacular that we are still pretty sure wasn’t real, I began counting down the days until it was over. Not just the trip in Scandinavia, my whole five week vacation with the two weeks at my parents home in Northern California.
Why was I doing this to myself? I love traveling and, even more, I love coming to my childhood home. My best friends are here and my beloved dog and my parents’ pantry which resembles that of a disorganized doomsday prepper’s. Why was I wanting to press fast-forward? Maybe because I cherish my independence, or crave complicated situations to counteract my freakishly stable childhood? I’m not sure if I will ever figure it out.
But I’ve taken my finger off the fast-forward button to hover it over the slow motion one. With only eight days left, there is beauty in every moment: every bead of sweat that forms simply from stepping outside, every second with friends I see less and less often, each moment with my parents whom I couldn’t get away from fast enough when I moved out, but miss more and more when I’m away. There is something so special and safe about coming to the place that used leathered hands with dirt crusted fingernails to mold me.
This seems to be a familiar pattern with my visits home: start out excited, realize how boring it is and squirm to get back, then settle back into this slower, simple, beautiful lifestyle. I am grateful that I still have so much time to teach myself to break this awful habit, but I’m terrified that I’m doing this with the rest of my life. It’s time to slow down all the time because every day offers a wonderful tidbit of happiness that I’ve been allowing to slip by.
As my favorite English teacher always says, “Teeka-teeka, little by little,” and little by little I will cherish my last summer days in my beloved mountain town.