154. Meeting New People, Old Dogs

Meeting New People, Old Dogs: We left Amy’s family in New York last week, moving this East Coast reunion tour to Florida, otherwise known as “New York South.” I was born in Tampa, almost all of my family is here or very nearby. Although it pains me to come home every year to find more sprawling subdivisions, news stories about freshly drained wetlands, new freeway lanes and the inevitable closing of some old family-owned institution in favor of another Bennigan’s, it also feels really damn good to be in shorts again.

Besides family, we left two cherished things behind in Tampa a year ago, my two favorite responsibilities: The dog and the Volkswagen camper. My dad made the questionably sweet decision to bring the dog to meet us at the airport, so instead of mylar balloons we were greeted with frantic licking and an armful of close-quarter scratch marks. And when we rounded the corner of the street I grew up on, there was no mistaking the flutter I felt when I saw the Volkswagen rise like an oblong yellow sun on the horizon. Before I wrestled with that sliding door for the first time in a year, before I breathed again of the musty interior air of a thousand camping trips, I was already imagining myself behind the wheel and surrounded by the endless plains of Kansas, West Texas, Nevada.

Good times got better when I met my new niece, my sister’s first baby and my parents’ first grandchild, born while we were in China. We have a lot of new babies to meet back in Portland, but it’s going to be difficult to top the warm high I get from being with this one. She smiles, I smile, she laughs, I laugh, and the cycle repeats for hours until one of us gets drowsy, hungry or needs to poop. Just like that, I have a new favorite family member. Sorry grandpa.

In Tampa as in New York, we’ve fallen effortlessly into the comfortable, time melting routine of family life that’s actually made it harder to imagine reintegrating ourselves into productive, responsible society. We’re not really living our own lives yet but it feels closer, when we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing and tuning the Volkswagen for the next migration. We’re going to be on the road again shortly, too soon and not nearly soon enough.


  1. Peter says:

    When you guys are crossing the middle, if you feel like making a stop in Iowa, Kimberly and I would love to have you. Most of the Presidential candidates have left by now, but we still have a lot of fun things to do here*.

    *things to do may not actually be fun

  2. furey says:

    that is one very cute baby.

  3. ron says:

    yeah man, florida is for sale. it always has been. no rush getting back up in the pnw. been cold lately…

  4. Krissy says:

    Oh, she’s precious. And she got the great Schang eyes and delicate chin-spittle!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do hurry home. I ran in to Summer at the beauty shoppe and we decided we’d see each other at your welcome back party…which, we decided, was obviously going to happen upon your return. So bring it! I want to Party!

  6. lauren says:

    Please don’t say it!: “We’re not really living our own lives yet”… What would constitute ‘living’? Is this the Western fervor for Work setting in?? AAAAhhh!! Enjoy it! Wish I was sleeping in a camper van & sucking up the sun in the Southern States…

  7. amyispolish says:

    Thank you Zen Lauren. I think you are totally right. We are living our own lives right now. Thanks for reminding us to stop waiting for it. Even world travelers need a reminder now and again.