“How do people do it,” I asked H, trying to reason out this sense of hollowness I felt right around the heart/abdomen area when kay jetted off to NY last Monday. “How do they say goodbye to sisters, siblings, family so easily, so grown-uppily? I feel like I am making such a big deal about something that seems to come super naturally to everyone. How does family manage to live apart and be ok with it?” H, being H, gave me an answer that perhaps, was the best one given my current state of mind, “But jam, what I dont get is how you guys have managed to live so close together for so long without killing each other!”
They say distance and absence make the heart grow fonder…but no one ever really tells you how much distance. I love being around my family yes, and they are the biggest source of overbearing love and forced support I have in my life but there are so many times when I just want to run far away to be on my own. The me space where I can do my own things, where I can bring up Nadi the way I want to, mistakes and all, where I can think feel and act in isolation without needing to take into account and consideration all the myriad other feelings that inevitably get mixed up in the equation.
The last week of May was evidence to this turmoily fact. To support kays publishers and her own book launch in Dubai, my whole family decided to make a trip of it, especially since it also preceded kay going away to NY. The last time the 5 of us actually travelled together was in 1991. 18 years ago. So, to say that I had my apprehension about being in a confined country with everyone is an understatement. With 4 women of extreme opinions, my dad who still thinks we are 10, 7 and 4 (therefore he gets to decide our day) and Nadi who has totally his own agenda regarding his comings and goings, it didn’t look like it would be very…peaceful.
It wasn’t. It was a clash of agendas from the word go. Shopping wise, food wise, people to hang out wise, when to go where wise. Everyone had something to say. And it usually didn’t match what the others said, which eventually led to one person being sulky on some level. The first two days and a pattern was set and as I began to despair of this family holiday thing ever really working out, suddenly on the third day, there was a shift. Suddenly everyone seemed to be working in tandem again. The plans were flowing smoother, everyone was laughing more and caring about the silly details less, plans falling through were being met with giggles and other plans being made. Suddenly, it was lieke we relearned how to be together, giving each other space while still in close proximity.
One thing I learned out of the trip was that we need to learn the art of growing tolerant, even and especially with our special-loved ones. We need to learn when to let go of the bigger things and when to hold onto the smaller things. I won’t say the flareups ended with this. I won’t even say that we have learned our lesson and this won’t happen again. But I will say that there is simply nothing like family when it comes to truly having fun and the closer they are in heart, the better it is in combating the distance. Bon Voyage toots. May the force be with you.