I am a great big giant baby when it comes to jetlag. This is, of course, because I am a delicate flower in general, and when you take a delicate flower and plunk her down someplace where time is magically 3 hours different, no amount of “oh, there’s no such thing as jetlag going west!” and “three hours is practically nothing!” staves off the all-encompassing fatigue which I then feel for the next two days, because I’ve woken up at 3:00 in the morning (6:00! time to pack lunches!) and around the time that everyone else is having breakfast, all I want is a 4-hour nap.
So: I was not entirely jazzed when the family vote was that we would arrive and settle in on Saturday, then hit the Grand Canyon first thing on Sunday. Really? By the time we left our rented house here in Flagstaff at 9:30 in the morning, I was wondering how on earth I could possibly last an entire day, much less an entire day in the sun and walking along cliff edges.
I bravely disguised my fear, by the way, by rattling around in the kitchen until I located the coffee grinder, then brewing a pot of coffee so strong that Otto took a swig from the mug I placed in front of him and it singed his eyebrows. Liquid courage!
I’ve learned many things in the short time we’ve been here, so far, and because it was a really long day and technically I think it’s now tomorrow and I AM STILL AWAKE OH GOD I think I should probably share them with you rather than going to sleep. Right? Right!
On time changes:
The nice thing about having slightly older children is that they can—and sometimes even do—follow directions. The first night we explained to the kids that despite going to bed much later than usual, it wouldn’t be at all strange if they woke up at their normal Eastern waking times, and they should really try to go back to sleep if that happened. They were then firmly instructed on how they were not to make any noise or wake up anyone else until it was clear that other people (read: their little cousins) were already awake. My darling children dutifully entertained themselves quietly in their room until I opened the door at around 7:00 or so, and they were pleasant and agreeable for the entire (very long, very active) day.
By the time we got back from the Grand Canyon, Monkey announced he was going straight to bed, and then… he did. I’m pretty sure he was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Easy peasy.
Chickadee, on the other hand, had a great day, walked into the house when we got home, and proceeded to become completely hysterical. Her rash was itchy and her nose and neck were both sunburned and THE WORLD WAS ENDING. No amount of explaining to her that SHE WAS EXHAUSTED assuaged her panic and sobs. Finally I had to remind myself that a sick, jetlagged teenager is basically just a big toddler, and I took her by the hand, sat her down with a snack and some water and her medications, put lotion on her sunburn, ointment on her rash, walked her up the stairs and talked her through getting ready for bed, and finally tucked her in and just whispered what I hoped were soothing things until she was cried out and ready for sleep.
(Naturally, we’re now considering leaving Chickadee at the kennel with Licorice for all future trips.) (I kid! I already told Otto absolutely not!)
The importance of moisture cannot be overstated. I can say this with certainty, now, because Arizona has about 0% humidity, and while what’s left of my hair looks FUCKING AMAZING (frizz? what frizz?), I’m pretty sure I can feel my skin, my nasal passages, and my throat all turning into desiccated tissue paper. We are drinking about a gallon of water a day apiece and still I feel like I am being mummified before my time. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.
Also, every time I open my mouth to one of the children, now, they shriek, “I JUST DRANK SOME WATER! SHEESH!”
On the Grand Canyon:
Hey, that’s big. Like, really big. And rocky. And big. Did I mention big? It’s pretty amazing. I was duly impressed, no fooling.
Here’s where being married to a photographer gets just a little annoying, though. I barely saw Otto all day; at first I tried to stay near him, but he stopped to take pictures every three feet, so eventually I gave up and went and hung out with the rest of my family. I missed him, but I’m the sort of person who looks at the 87 different views of the Grand Canyon and says, “Wow. That’s incredible. Also, really big. And didn’t we see this already?” But he’s there taking six hundred more pictures.
(Monkey, by the way, is the kind of person who takes six hundred pictures of the Grand Canyon and then takes a picture of every dog he meets at the Grand Canyon. That was kind of adorable.)
On the annular eclipse:
Just to be perfectly clear, I’ve never seen one before, and it was very cool (ring of fiiiiiiire). A once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be sure. But we were experiencing it 1) along with several thousand other people at the particular pull-off where we chose to view it and 2) with my nephew and niece, two very small children. (Beautiful infant Gerber of two-years-ago cruise fame is now, impossibly, three years old, and Banana is now five.) While people around us discussed the mechanics of an annular eclipse and my stepbrother even picked up a few rocks to give Banana a visual demonstration of how it works, I couldn’t help thinking that REALLY the annular eclipse, in our case, is that rare and blessed event when eight adults are reduced to nervous wrecks by two small children who are just not entirely clear on the whole “DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN” concept. Banana was pretty good about putting on her special eclipse-viewing glasses, but Gerber is three, and c’mon, you can’t tell three-year-olds anything. He spent half the day coming up to me and tickling me and running away giggling, so really, do you think he was going to hold his special viewer up in front of his eyes to look at the sun just because we told him to? Yeah.
On the distance between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon:
The drive there is easy and not very long. The drive home when half the civilized world is leaving the park and everyone is hot and tired and DONE takes about five times as long. I don’t know why.
wine family time:
Once back to the house, kids all passed out upstairs, we adults sat down together and the stories began. I’m not saying the wine was the ONLY reason the conversation was so lively, but it certainly didn’t hurt. My stepbrother’s wife (what would that make her… my… stepsister-in-law? weird) joined me in insisting to Otto that I should be allowed to own chickens. My brother insisted that when he bought his house, he was told he had a non-fruit-bearing plum tree in front, but now it’s covered in plums, and they kind of make a mess. First we suggested he get into canning and make jam (hilarious, because he doesn’t cook AT ALL), then it was suggested he go into the Organic Plum Jerky business. That seemed hilarious to all involved, and then my dad commented that sometimes when we’re all together like this, someone comes up with a great idea (like plum jerky!) and he thinks he should really be writing it down, but then he remembers that he doesn’t have to because I’ll probably blog about it.
“But sometimes I don’t,” I pointed out, “because sometimes I think the stuff that’s really funny to us is maybe not that funny to the rest of the world.”
(He assured me that plum jerky is a winner, so my apologies if you don’t see the humor. Also, try having a couple of glasses of wine first; I’m pretty sure that makes it much funnier.)
Then my brother’s girlfriend started quizzing us on our how-we-got-together stories, and Otto and I had to explain how we’d met in college, didn’t date until after my divorce, broke up, and then found our way back to each other years later. She was fascinated by this and wanted to know HOW we managed to restart things. I admitted that my camera was broken, and I knew Otto was the one person who could tell me if it was fixable (and if so, where I could get it fixed). Within about two minutes “broken camera” became a terrible, TERRIBLE euphemism in our family vernacular, as I sat at a table while everyone (including my BROTHER and FATHER) insisted to my HUSBAND that he “fixed my camera real good.” Many of the subsequent stories involved “broken cameras” as well. It was horrifying each and every time.
(Which just goes to prove that no matter where you go, “That’s what she said” is always a workable punchline.)
Now I am up so late that my internal body clock has surrendered (or possibly imploded), and in a few hours we all have to get up and have a wedding. Which is EXCITING. (The sleeveless dress I brought for the occasion is going to look super awesome with the farmer’s sunburn I got at the Canyon!)
For the record, I would not bet on the blessed event being completed without mention of plum jerky or broken cameras, just in case you were wondering.