Vacation. Some people go to Hawaii or Disneyland or Italy. We go to Oklahoma. We go to Oklahoma during the most diabolical heat wave and drought of all time, one that reduces local news anchors to talking only of the weather and attempting to cook things on sidewalks, on hoods of cars. George learned a few words while we were there, the most useful being "hot." Whenever we left Nathan's parents' house: "hot." When we got back into the sweltering car: "hot." Whenever a lukewarm morsel of food touched his lips: "hot." He even began demanding that the air conditioning vent be pointed directly at him. The kid is no idiot, but he is Northwestern through and through.
We took to the river, which, in the 105 degree summer, must've been about 80 degrees.
George loved it, and pleadingly signed 'more bath' when it was time to get out and eat some watermelon and blackberries.
This was among my best memories from the trip: buoyant in the water, escaping the oppressive heat and the forever-long car rides that come with living in the middle of nowhere.
For a change, on this outing, everyone seemed to be having fun, which is sadly uncommon when hanging out with Nathan's family. His sister? Rules. His dad? A dad: can talk about the weather, pleasant enough and enjoys George's company. His mom? Well, let's just say this: When, during a family-style pizza lunch, we announced that we were expecting a baby, Nathan's mom replied, "Oh. (pause) Well, I don't care; have 25 kids. I want more grandchildren." And then went about the conversation she was previously having. About cows. Sigh.
Every time we visit, it's a struggle for me from start to finish. I have a hard time deciding to go in the first place; I'm a very fearful flyer, who (thanks to pregnancy, then breastfeeding, then pregnany AND breastfeeding) hasn't been sufficiently -- ahem -- medicated in nearly three years. Once we're there, regardless of the boundaries we've set in the past and ones we've laid out for the trip that we're on, there's opposition. There's sulking and fit-throwing and passive aggression, which are behaviors I barely and rarely tolerate in people I love and respect, say nothing of those who... you know, I don't. We don't even have the luxury of comfortably leaving George for a date night, because the threat that we'll come home to a drunk, unstable caregiver (or two) is, unfortunately, very real. Add the hours spent in the car, the lack of vegetarian food, the bucket-size sodas and WALMART, and vacation becomes an exercise in cherry-picking halfway decent memories.
Family is intrinsically important to Nathan, but not to me. For better or worse, I don't feel any allegiance to people simply because we share a bloodline, but I understand that most people do. For that reason, I try to keep my objections to a minimum when hanging out with Nathan's parents. I'd be lying, however, if I said this future-baby I'm making doesn't provide a little bit of relief: next summer, the in-laws can come to us. And, with any luck, they'll leave the triple-digit heat in Oklahoma.