That championship season…

Ever know a weekend that worked out well beyond your expectations?  A weekend when, against every odd stacked against you and all the trepidation with which you’ve anticipated it, everything falls into place and works beautifully?  Weekends like that one (any stretch of time like that one) comes along very seldom and is then eternally etched in your memory…a paragon of perfection that you will cherish and think about -harking back nostalgically- for years to come.  We’ve had such a weekend…

The guests arrived after a long car trip during which, we’re sure, they were hoping that their presence wouldn’t be disruptive to J.  People spilled into the house…people we’d not seen in approximately six years…people spilled and family merged with family, and soon we were all one happy and comfortable group sharing three levels of living space, crowding around tables, arms reaching past plates, utensils being handed up and down the table while people laughed and chattered noisily over meals.  People sat comfortably; people leaned into things, piled onto things…and J, without missing a beat, remained pleasant J; inquisitive J; curious and happy J; “oh, you’re HERE!” J.

The story I kept going back to in my mind was The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Stephen Gammell.  The Great Gonzo and J loved this book when they were younger; it was once featured on Reading Rainbow and the idea of visitors immediately became appealing to The Great Gonzo.  As time progressed and J started changing and becoming more difficult to figure out, the idea lost its glossiness in our collective mind.

And yet here we are…in the afternoon of Monday after a weekend of happy cohabitation with people we hadn’t seen in a long time.  The house feels empty.  There hasn’t been any of the “sigh, we can now relax” that usually follows such interactions.  There isn’t a scramble to set our lives back to rights, to resume the course of our usual routine…we all segued into a shared normalcy that was very comfortable to us.  In all honesty, we hope they are driving home at a reasonable speed and not dialing the phone company to ask for a different number, planning to move incognito or hoping we will never repeat the experience.  We are not emotionally or physically exhausted; we haven’t been walking on egg shells or hoping that nothing goes awry…we were comfortable, relaxed, and yet very much ourselves.

Yesterday morning J opened the basement door and stood on the steps while our guests slept.  My friend noticed him. He didn’t bother them; he didn’t intentionally interrupt their rest.  She asked why he’d do that and the explanation was simple: he was taking a head count and making sure they were all still here.  On Saturday the grown-ups had trekked to town and the younger folk (not children anymore, of course) had gone their way to the mall, and J had been a part of the expedition of the younger set.  And he had fun.  And he was relaxed.  And we felt blessed and grateful…and I told my friend he would have already expressed discontent if he’d felt any, and he’d been tremendously vocal about it…

The loveliness of the experience wasn’t just that J behaved, but that no one expected him not to and yet, if he had, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for any of us.  The kids were, as kids tend to be, quietly polite with us and tremendously relaxed with each other…and J, in his own way, would emerge from the inner sanctum of his room and observe the general hubbub with a smile, eventually asking this new outcrop of companions to do something for him, and reacting to them with the same affectionate detachment he applies to us…

We are happy they came.  We feel better for having risked opening doors and mingling families, been noisy, cooking for 8 rather than for four, generating more dishes and pots and pans to wash for one meal than we do for a holiday celebration.

It was worth it.  We want to do it again…we hope they do, too.  For a long time to come conversations around this house will start with “remember that weekend when M, H, P and N came to visit and we had such an awesome time…”  The roar of the crowd as the last ball beats the buzzer, entering the net neatly from the three-point line and the tie is broken and we win, we win, WE WIN!!!! will be ringing in our ears for a long time to come…



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