I should have known it, but I was just too wrapped up in the variety of the everyday to pay attention to the everyday crazy that plays a part in the variation.
My trip to Costa Rica happened. And while I’m back, I’m not unscathed by the wild howler monkeys, or by the crazy that is my family.
The trip proved to be a test for my nerves the likes of which I’ve experienced only at summer camp, counselling 15 really incredibly unhappy toddlers on a rainy day. Their parents also forgot to pack some of their lunches, which was fun.
I’m overall not going to complain – I spent a week in Central America bumming around beaches, eating tomato-onion salads and drinking various alcoholic concoctions, along with seeing a startling variety of lizards, geckos, and other crawling, scaly things that flew, hopped, and crawled into a space I generally like to identify as “extremely personal.”
The point with all of these entities – cranky toddlers, irritable familia, and uncaring-of-my-personal-space insects – is that they’re best experienced at a farther distance than you think.
Example 1) Cranky Toddlers
The first time I worked at a summer camp, I was a n00b of the highest degree – I knew I loved kids because they were cute and adorable and I could generally make them listen to me, but I didn’t realize that spending an entire day with them would be mind-numbingly repetitive.
“Why do we have to go there?”
“Because it’s on our schedule. Why don’t you want to go ______?”
“I don’t like it. Why do we have to go there?”
“Maybe some of the other kids would like to do this activity. Just try it first, maybe you’ll like it!”
“I don’t. Like. It. I don’t want to go.”
*sigh* “OKAY, EVERYBODY PRETEND YOU’RE LITTLE BABY DUCKS, I’M THE MOMMA DUCK, FOLLOW ME – QUACK QUACKK QUACKK”
*little quackers follow along*
Most of my “follow what I say” activities were heeded by the little urchins because we pretended we were animals. By the end of the summer when I was ass-high with mosquito-bites, elbow-deep in sunburns and cranium-full of whining, we were onto African Tarantulas to get them to follow me. The parents, of course, thought this little routine was “Darling! Just wonderful,” when in fact this was the only way their little devil-spawn would ingest the excuse for a lunch they provided him with every day.
Surprisingly, following the end of that camp season, I almost misted up. I – almost instantaneously after my last paycheck – forgot all the crapping in their pants/pool/diaper they did, misplaced all the memories of cajoling and begging them to come do the raindance, and conveniently ignored the “I Miss Mommy” marathons they played every morning. I missed the little buggers, and I’m going to be honest – I actually do think kids are super-duper cute, but they’re not always cute, especially when you’re always with them.
Less is more.
Example 2) Inconsiderate Insects
As a proud Canadian, I’m not used to insects presiding with me over my morning Tims. This, however, seems to be the norm in Costa Rica (and according to my knowledge, other tropical places like Cuba, Jamaica and Dominican Republic). It’s not that I’m anti-bug, I’m just not fully pro-other non-fuzzy life forms sharing the EXACT same living space with me. I’m going to fill this section with photos. Because in this case, more will prove my point.
Less is less, and that’s good, regarding slimy/poisonous/hairy/scaly things.
Example 3) Flatulent Family
Maybe flatulent isn’t the right adjective, but the idea of proximity certainly gets across, does it not? It’s much easier to love people from a distance, and this week I’ve been trying to find that distance. When people say, “Give me space” this must be what they really mean: “I need some time to ignore the every second of every day that I’ve seen you and the little moments I’ve hated you in between.”
It’s not that I don’t love my family, I do. It’s easy to see. They’re my pores and my complaints and my food. But they are also each their own human beings, and like my mother likes to remind me, they have their own faults.
I’m sure I have faults too, although I haven’t come across many too severe (except loving people SO DAMN MUCH), but sometimes – and this is hard to articulate, so forgive me for my word jumbles – your faults just don’t match up with other people’s, or you’re just at a completely different stage of understanding than they are. Sometimes people do not neatly fit into puzzles as a family. Sometimes people can’t stand to be near each other – whether each thinks that the other is overbearing or uncaring or irresponsible or uptight, it doesn’t matter. Too much of a good thing is always too much.
The complexities of family life began to baffle me at an early age, and haven’t completed their confounding journey in my life yet, I believe. It’s very difficult to get along with people who fail to see the effect they have on you and your life. It’s very difficult when that effect is negative. It’s very difficult if this is the same fight you’ve been having for the past 10 years.
Overall, I’d rate it difficult, since I’ve used that word straight to its grave by now.
And I don’t plan on giving up, but I definitely need some space. I like writing because it gives me that space, that distance that I need to get rid of all the irritants that proximity brings up. So this is what I’m doing, like “shaking it out” after a long workout.
Shake it out. Get some space. Clear that thunder.