Thursday, July 21, 2005

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I spent most of the last two weeks at my parent's place in Indiana, which is not exactly where i would choose to spend my summer vacation, but you don't get to choose your family as they say. I have a strange fondness for Indiana, especially the northeastern corner where i spent my formative years, but i couldn't live there again. I miss the corn fields and the trees and the basic irrepressible greeness of the place. Unfortunately, the bugs like that stuff too. I like certain Hoosier behaviors, like the fact that a conversation doesn't count until you make eye contact and that most people would just as soon skip the small talk in favor of not talking at all. But i hate the red state politics. As the old joke goes, Indiana is a really good place to be from.

My boys enjoy visiting their grandparents. They like to go to my parent's lake place and fish or swim in the lake, but they also get to do things that they don't get to do at home like drink soda and watch TV for hours on end. Finally, they get to spend time with their cousins, Matt and Ben, with whom they have almost nothing in common besides similar ages and a sort of generic gifted child weirdness. Matt and Ben are tall and skinny and pale, my boys are shorter, tanned, and muscular. My nephew Matt is self-consciously intellectual and introverted, while my son Nathan, who is about the same age, is sociable and intuitive. Ben loves watching sports on TV (his dad is a radio guy, so Ben pretend-broadcasts imaginary games in his back yard), while my son Henry is purely kinetic. Still, the boys get along famously in that way that kids do. Kids have a talent for finding common interests.

Beyond fishing and swimming, we saw some movies and went to some car museums (my parents live in Auburn, IN, a classic car mecca). We hit some of our favorite eateries, like Fish of Stroh and Bob Evans for breakfast. But the thing we tend to do most when visiting my parents is nothing. Not in the sense of purposeful relaxation, like when you sit on the beach and have people bring you drinks with tiny umbrellas in them, but rather we collectively abandon our routines and just basically bide time between meals. No lessons or practices or appointments or plans. We watch TV, read books, and frequently we nap. It's the intellectual equivalent of fasting in order to purge the toxins.

Despite the fact that i stopped paying attention, stuff continued to happen in the world while i was gone. Armstrong's killing everybody in Le Tour again, Tiger won at St. Andrews, and B Hopkins finally lost his middleweight crown. General Westmoreland and Scotty died. San Diego changed mayors, twice. The new Harry Potter book sold roughly 1.7 zillion copies. Bush named a successor for Sandra Day O'Connor, whose name i think is John Roberts, which sounds vaguely like a euphemism for penis. There were hurricanes, one named Emily, which let me tease my wife on a daily basis about headlines saying things like "Emily pounds Mexico" or similar. But it'd be very easy to sit in my parent's basement and forget about the world, and to be honest i couldn't think of any very good reasons why i shouldn't.

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