Thursday, April 21, 2011

Checking Baggage

My favorite magazine just had an article on how people calm themselves down, when they are in a mood. Readers wrote in tricks that worked for them when they were in a crappy funk. I can relate. I am far less upset by little things, but every now and then I get into a state and I have trouble shaking it.

I have had a great time the past few weeks. My sister came in from overseas for a visit, we had two holiday meals, one here and one up in San Francisco with my brother and his wife. It was the first time in a while I was with both my siblings and it was both stressful and fun. I am not going to insult anyone in this post. At least that is not my intent, but I always come away from time with my family with mixed feelings.

I love my family, and I am also always perplexed at how my idea of who they are can be so different from reality. It's kind of like when I hear Michael Jackson sing when he was in the Jackson 5. His voice was incredibly sweet, strong, and beautiful. If you watch videos, he seemed confident, and looked like he was having such a great time. It's hard to believe that there is nothing of that image or sound that remains now. In my head, I have a great relationship with my siblings. We have fun together, we share common interests, and all look forward to our far and few between visits. The reality is though that we are all very different. We do have great moments, and do experience close times, but it feels more often than that that we irritate each other. I feel more tension coming off of a family visit than I want to. I know this isn't news to anyone and I know the roles we play in our family aren't always the same as who we are when we are not with them, but can't we all just get along?

This last visit was actually better than most, there is just a feeling that we become too tightly around around each other. Stupid things like, putting dishes away correctly or slamming car doors too loudly get too much weight. I am and forever will be grateful to my husband for teaching me to chill out more. That life is too short to waste energy on getting upset about little things. I do still have moments of course, and then I am just short of going nuts like the guy in that Michael Douglas movie.

I am sure I had some misplaced emotional reaction yesterday when just after my brother dropped us off at the airport, I realized I left my brand new camera in his car. I had one of those "end of the rope" moments. Then we couldn't get through security without checking our bag. I was told it was okay as carry-on when I bought it, but clearly I was a sucker. On the way, we went through okay and then they took it at the gate but this time we weren't going through without losing 25 buckaroos and upon this realization my ability to hold it together was being compromised. I needed a second alone, so with a happy face, I told my husband to go ahead and take our daughter through, and that I would deal with it. Here is where this gets embarassing. I was so pissed at the system that I told the innocent airline attendant that I only had $20 cash and no cards. I told her my stupid sob story and pouted about how they let us through the first time. I was getting angry at her and she didn't care. Why should she? It was not her problem. It was mine. I took my five minute simmer down now walk and went back. If you looked closely my eyes were maybe a little teary but to the average person I held it together okay. I am ashamed of my frustrated confrontation with this woman who couldn't care less, but I otherwise didn't feel the earth move.

Everyone has sides to them that are not as pretty as they paint themselves to be. I have a hard time accepting that in friends, family, and in myself. Recently I wrote of an artist that moved me so much. Well she showed her colors recently in a butchered busniess deal with my husband, and she turned out to be more of a dirty gray than the bright shiny silver I had in my head. People can be many things. You can be brilliant and bitchy all at the same time. I just forget that very few people are only what that carry. Usually we all have a bit more baggage than that.

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