Friday, 12.23.2016 - 2:19 pm.
Hello from Houston. Brother #1's house is the best AirBnB ever! I haven't been here for over five years and many things, nearly everything has changed, but I feel as comfortable and as home as usual.
The trip was peaceful, relatively quick. I left home in the UK at 4:30 am, and even with a bump in the road regarding the train to Manchester, I made it to the airport with plenty of time for my 10 am flight. Singapore Airlines did earn my heart. The food was good, the in-flight entertainment, too. The flight was not crowded and some people even got a whole three-seat row for them to sleep in. I couldn't sleep during the 10-hour flight but I saw a couple of movies and even wrote a short story to submit it for an online anthology (wish me luck!).
Brother and Nephew #1 picked me up at the airport at 2 pm, Houston time. I still had half a day ahead of me in my native time zone, with lots of sun and warmth courtesy of climate change, and I made the most of it. I wasn't tired or sleepy, and I haven't had much trouble adjusting to the time zone.
Brother and SIL #1 rebuilt their house a few years ago and it turned out amazing. It's huge and fancy, I feel like in Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Only the two of them live in this house now, so you know it's built to entertain guests and have family over, which I think is sweet. There'll be more than 10 people staying over for New Year's Eve (my parents, two brothers, one with his wife and two kids, my sister, and Nephew #1), and there's lots of space and bathrooms to accommodate everyone.
Yesterday I got to spend time with Nephew and Niece #1, separately. With my nephew, we went to Starbucks in the afternoon. I was sorry to hear his long-time girlfriend broke up with him before he came to Houston from New York, where he lives (hoping to get into med school). I really liked her, based on what I've heard from her and following each other on social media. My nephew's been more moody than usual because of that, and I tried to help him get some perspective on the break-up. It really reminded me of my own break-up with Joseph in some things on my end, and my nephew's end. At least I did have some insights to soothe my nephew in that department, and I hope he doesn't suffer more than necessary.
We also talked about other things going on in his life. How he's a success case given that, during his outbreak in his teenage years, there was the possibility that he wouldn't be able to have an independent life. He's still seeing a therapist and takes his meds. His parents and him fought really hard to overcome that, dare I call it, trauma. Those years (I wrote about them in this diary, when I'd come visit in December) were incredibly hard and scary. I'm happy my nephew has a world of possibilities before him, even though right now he's stuck in a break-up and waiting to hear from some schools.
My niece is also doing great. She also had horrible crisis in her teenage years, and she was sent away to another state for everyone's safety. Now she gets along nicely with her parents and comes over almost everyday. She supports herself and also has plans for her future: traveling, studying, getting a better job. She works at a call center, which I know it's a disappointment for my brother, but last night she took me out for dinner (aw!) and I learned what she did for a living. We even talked about transgender issues for a while, because her work relates to health care and she has helped trans people through it.
I'm proud of both my nephew and niece. They're now in their mid-20s, and I know they're not doing what their parents would have liked for them to do, but they're quite content and have things to look forward to. At times I think my brother is too hard on them. Not to say that sometimes both his kids can be really mean toward him and their mom...I mean, I see how some issues in their relationships go both ways, but it's not my place to tell them so or judge them beyond what I can't help noticing. I know they all have done their best, and things have turned out well enough.
Me, I'm having a great time here. I'm home alone today, currently using the house's built-in sound system to listen to Bowie covering The Beatles (The Beatles remind me so much of my visits here). I have my own bedroom, a huge bedroom with my own bathroom, until December 27th rolls around and brings along my parents, Brother #3 and Sister. Then my life will be the Kardashians meet Arrested Development, except my family aren't horrible people, or at least below average.
A part of me is just happy and wishes time stood still, though. This is just like the old times when I was a teenager and I'd come here: I'm home alone at my brother's house for the day, doing my own stuff*, enjoying the house and the pets that live in it.
*I've been reading the first draft of my AF story. I thought it was ok, like "it could be tolerable as published material if I died", but then I've read the first two chapters on my kindle, without chance to edit them, and, no. It has some interesting bits, and the story as a whole is fine, but the writing is much too plain, sprinkled with long and pointless descriptions. I was very disappointed and also surprised at how you look at a story differently when your hands are tied and you cannot change it. It's all fixable, though, and I'm working on it.
I also feel amazed that this story I'm writing mirrors a lot of the relationships and issues I'm seeing here, in my family. I didn't write about them consciously.
Today's the anniversary of Andrew's brother's death. I talk to Andrew everyday in the morning (afternoon for him). Today he was ok. He tries to be. He told me some friends were reaching out to him through messages and phone calls, that's nice.
His mother wrote me a few weeks ago, said she learned the death was an accident. I've heard a couple of versions from her since in these two years, but that's understandable, and I think this one is the definitive conclusion from the investigation.
She also told me she's sick. Like, really sick. Psychosomatics backs me up on this one. I debated whether to tell Andrew. Their relationship is a bit strained but I really think that's a conversation that the both of them must have. His mother didn't ask me to tell him or not tell him, and I just encouraged her to tell him. I hate knowing this behind Andrew's back, but I don't think it's my place to break the news to him.
Anyway. That's how things are at the moment. I'm spoiled, enjoying my vacation, hoping time will stretch a little bit so it'll last longer. I'm grateful for all I have.