Just a visitor during the holidays
Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 - 5:31 pm.

Hello from my very comfortable hotel room in my home country. I planned on staying in the hotel after lunch and until tomorrow because the streets are gonna collapse this afternoon, evening, and night. Traffic is a nightmare all the time, and even worse on a Friday before the Christmas weekend. I can hear cars honking nearby. I've been stuck in traffic a lot here, even at non-rush hours.

But it's been a great week! I managed to see some friends, I've eaten a lot of food. I've seen my family, of course! My dad only cares about himself and his various illnesses, most of them imagined (my God, he's ridiculously healthy for 86), so it's pointless being around him for long. I'd like to spend more time with my mom, but everything's about my dad for her, too. It's no use saying anything, that's their life dynamic and they won't listen. Hence, I can only be around my parents for so long.

My sister got my mom and my aunt to sneak out (my dad can't stand my aunt), and took the three of us to a Christmas market last Sunday. My mom nearly broke down in tears, very close to admitting life with my dad is hell, but she composed herself. That internalization of the perfect wife role is gonna kill her. I'm afraid she'll be gone before my dad. But my sister tries to find her these pockets of time for her to breathe, bless my sister forever.

I've gone for coffee or lunch with my sister and Brother and Sister-in-law #3, and with my nephew and his girlfriend. I'm looking forward to our Christmas dinner tomorrow. Brother #2 and his family arrive on the 27th. There was the chance that they might stay at the same hotel as me, which would rock, but I'm not sure they'll go for that.

Helen's been absolutely lovely to me. She picked me up at the airport, got presents for my sister and parents (she's all solidarity with my mom and sister), took me to spend the night at a fancy beach hotel, and she arranged a meeting with a translator who'll translate my novel to English (she insists it'll be more appreciated in this language). She's given me rides everywhere.

I know it's very little considering all she does for me, but in exchange, I've treated her to coffee, lunches and dinners, and given her my time and company (it makes me sound self-centered, but I swear she loves it! I can't do much for her but she adores me and is content with so little from me). We did heated stuff at the beach, but we still slept on separate beds. I like her a lot, but now mostly as a friend. Which isn't a bad thing, I give a lot of love to my friends. I'm grateful for her and I really enjoy hanging out with her.

She's off to Mexico with her sisters for Christmas, though the winter storm may mess with their plans. I'm not sure when she'll be able to return, but we have assorted plans for next week, before I leave on Friday.

I message Andrew constantly and we talk nearly everyday. I wish he was here so I could show him around and, above all, take him out for breakfast.

Today marks his brother's death anniversary. He'd thought about going to the cemetery but life took a turn for the better and he kept running into friends all day, so he's been in good company. He will go to his parents' town tomorrow to spend Christmas' Eve and will return on Sunday. I'm also not sure if I'll be able to talk to him while he's there because the town doesn't have a great signal.

On the 21st, I attended mass for the second anniversary of one of my cousin's passing due to covid. The one on my dad's side. I needed this ritual. I got to see two aunts, one male cousin, and R, the dead cousin's sister, who has very much carried the grief of her parents.

Mass was amazing, as the priest was young, maybe a peer of R, late 20s, early 30s (if you've seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, he reminded me of Father Brah, even in his appearance). He was also friends with her, I gathered, and had surprisingly comforting words about loss, grief, and the celebration of the life of those who've left empty chairs at our tables.

And one more dead person, on the 25th: it's the birthday of the cousin on my mom's side who also died from covid. My poor aunt (the one who snuck out with my mom) deals with a brutal grief, as her son passed away abroad, he was immediately cremated, and she never got to see the body. My sister and I will pay her a visit tomorrow.

So this has been my stay so far. I've seen family and friends, I've eaten a lot, I've been very well taken care of. I'm permanently furious and heartbroken by the inhumane state of this country, which government propaganda and way too many people includind my dad continue to celebrate as progress. I'm just a visitor now but I know what's really going on. A lot of people do.

I feel like crying over all the love and gratefulness I feel for all I have in my life... and also over deep sadness over how cruel this country is to most of its people (and animals and whatever's left of nature). That's just a day in my life in my home country, though.

Now it's time to go wash my hair, heat up my dinner (leftovers from lunch with my parents, nephew and Brother #3), and pack the gifts to take to my parents' home tomorrow. Sounds like a great night to me.

Happy holidays <3

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