I'm loving Bardiac these days--well, I've loved Bardiac for a long time, but her recent posts on life in Japan fascinate me because I love the ins and outs of just living somewhere else. Reading about learning to decipher the pictographs on toilets or kitchen appliances, learning about how snack food is packaged somewhere else, learning about negotiating the daily-ness of life somewhere else has always fascinated me. I enjoy the gorgeous photos that the NY Times Sunday Travel section now ends with, but I miss the first-person essays that used to appear in that space. I love personal travel stories about negotiating regular activities in another place.
When we visited Budapest several years ago, we found a TV station whose camera was, 24/7, trained on a fish tank. Always the same fish tank. I watched it a little every day. What a delightfully weird piece of public programming. Fish tanks reduce stress in real life--who knows what watching one on TV will do. I sure enjoyed it in our Danube and Parliament-view hotel room.
Curious Girl and I just got back from a weekend of visiting friends and (for me) a conference. I'm happy to be home (even if the dishwasher didn't magically empty itself while I was gone). It was a great little visit, with friends who have two kids, one a little older than CG, the other a little younger. We'd never stayed at their house before, but we fit right in, and CG was pretty excited to discover some new toys (like an indoor basketball hoop and the wondrous playmobil). We stayed up until almost 11 one night--something that is a rare event around here, where bedtime can start at 6:30 as the week goes on and CG gets increasingly tired. We ate breakfast a while after waking, instead of right away. We had ice cream for breakfast one day (because the friends we visited are also people who've worked at getting kids to gain weight--what a joy to have friends who can swap calorie tips rather than wondering, "but won't that be creating bad habits later in life?"). The kids invented a few new games,heavily influenced by CG's home classics "Pet Shop" and "Office" crossed with our friends' favorite pretends. They played basketball even when people were sitting on the couch, a big treat given our lack of hoops and general lack of enthusiasm for indoor ball throwing. We sang one of our home Shabbat melodies (which led to a lot of questions about why our melody wasn't the same as our friends' usual melody).
It's easy to get off-routine when traveling. As long as Curious Girl knows where Politica or I will be, and as long as she knows she doesn't have to put herself to sleep, she's usually a pretty happy camper. She's a partying girl--despite the fact that she's ready for bed quite early on most nights, she invariably rises to the occasion and happily stays up late as long as there's good company. In the afternoon following our very late night, she had a weird little fit, a product of fatigue and perhaps hunger. But that passed (with a bit of mood management on my part), and she was back to her party-hearty self, happy to stay up not-quite-so-late-but-still-pretty-late that night. And I loved it.
I'm happy to give CG some later nights with other kids to play with, some lazy mornings and even some grumpy afternoons as a consequence. It's fun to try on being someone who stays up a little late, someone who does Shabbat a little different, someone who eats a little later or organizes the day a little different. Some things from this visit will probably stick around. Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? (CG modeled eating pizza for breakfast while we were there, something I don't think our friends will be imitating anytime soon, but one never knows....) Other things, I'm happy to leave on the road. CG was happy to fall asleep around 7:30 tonight after a batch. We're getting back into our usual routines, and that feels good. But I like knowing that our usual routines could be different, that we can be people who sleep later, eat differently, use our time a little differently. There are a lot of ways to move through the world, and I like to try moving differently every now and again.
So ice cream or pizza for breakfast: try it. It's good to know things don't always need to be the same old way we love them to be. We might love the new ways, too, even just for a weekend.