The first few days were thought provoking for me. I don't go home often anymore. I don't feel there is anything left there for me, and I've no desire to return to a place that triggers traumatic memories. But Lacey and Troy's excitement made me think about some of the parts of my home I take for granted. When I was little, I hated that nothing in our house matched--the carpets and the couches, the pictures on the wall, the tablecloths and the upholstery on the dining room chairs. I wanted the kind of home I see out here in Utah where everything matches and it all comes from Pottery Barn or Pier 1. My tastes have changed--I hang JMW Turner and Scott Mutter in custom frames to camouflage the Ikea furniture in my condo--but it's hard to shed my distaste for my childhood home. Lacey and Troy looked at the haphazard decor and said, "It has so much character!" They walked through every room with their mouths gaping in awe: "Look at this Persian rug! Look at this old china cabinet!" Soon my house looked cool even to me. It was the same when we walked around the naighborhood one evening. We walked about a mile and a half, looping around the high school and through the center of town. "Look at these houses! They're so colorful! Green, blue, brick, stone, yellow, white with a bright purple front door--it's like you can see the personality of the people who live there!" "This is where you went to high school?! It looks like something out of a movie! Your school has an ice skating rink?! People play ice hockey here?!" Everything was so exciting to them, I stood back and thought, "Yeah, I guess it is pretty cool."
Lacey and Troy were also impressed with my nieces and nephew. They are pretty smart. During dinner one night, the 9-year-old explained to us how to measure a footcandle. A few days later, when she scraped her elbow, she explained how blood clots. One morning, Lacey was telling the 5-year-old that plants need water and light when the 2-year-old said, "Otherwise it will die." "Otherwise"? What 2-year-old says otherwise?
Lacey and Troy were so entertained at my house and enamoured by my neighborhood that we did far less touring than I expected. We made it to the aquarium where we saw several kinds of penguins, jellyfish, baby anacondas, sharks, the colorful mandarin fish (my fave, below) and a hundred other sea animals. We held starfish--before we noticed the sign that said not to pick them up. Oops! I also enjoyed hearing every aquarium visitor say, "Look, it's Nemo!" when they saw the clownfish. I doubt any child will ever learn the real name of a clownfish again. We went to some art museums, down to the harbor to see a boat race, and to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see the glass flowers (hundreds of anatomically correct flowers and other plants made of glass). I got us lost a few times, but I blame the GPS and my poor sense of above-ground direction due to my taking the subway everywhere when I was in high school. We took a day trip to New Hampshire to go boating on Lake Winnipesaukee. I think that was Lacey and Troy's favorite part of the trip because their favorite movie, What about Bob?, takes place there. On the way home, we passed and outlet mall where I introduced them to the joys of tax-free shopping. Ah, progressive tax system, how I miss thee!