Let me force myself to write this, because if the infinite optimism drive works on just about everything else, it should be able to hit this too. Let me see what I can do with this. Let me start with the sentence "Visiting Glenview is great."
It makes me appreciate things; it's like rolling back through a whole bunch of revision histories and going whoa, new features. Sometimes you don't know what you have until you don't have it for a little while. And I can roll back through the changelog and remember and appreciate and silently thank the people who've helped me commit those patches to the person I've become. And during my normal life - when I'm in Boston or traveling around - I'm more acutely aware of how lucky I am to be where I am and with the people I'm with.
Going to Mass with my parents is good for me; I don't regularly take periods of stillness and contemplation (I take them, but nowhere near regularly - it's very much an "as I need it" thing). There are people at church who knew me as a baby. It's good to be reminded that I've got a past. The family albums and photos around the house remind me of that, too - and the statuettes of saints, and the paintings by my mother's father hanging on the wall. I'm connected to a long, rich web of culture and tradition, and whenever I want to reach out for it, it's there. Even if I step away from it, I can always step back in case I want it someday, and I'll always be asked to. There's a weird sort of comfort in that.
Being with my mom and dad is good for me, too. I do enjoy spending time with them. It's nice to be able to see them from the perspective of a young adult; I remember them differently from different phases of my childhood. They've mellowed out (a little bit) with age and come to understand different types of American-ness a little more (though they don't always agree with it - nor do I, for that matter, but on different things). I've learned how to talk with them differently as I've gotten older - better on some things, worse on others. They teach me how to be a person. And watching them with young people who aren't their kids is always something of a revelation to me - they're very good with them. I think it's always different when it's your own kids and your own parents.
Sometimes, you can only really get certain sorts of food at home. Where else can I find homemade soymilk, pork lugaw, adobo, and the 2nd best huana miki in the world? (The best is made by my mother's mother. I hope to someday vy for third place.) There are ingredients at home; Mang Tomas and banana ketchup and various Mama Sita mixes, polveron in the candy drawer, the occasional bag of ensaymadas after a bakery trip. Fish and shrimp are cooked with their heads on; rice has the proper semi-sticky texture (boiling rice like pasta and then draining it is just... no).
I'm forced to prioritize - how much rest do I need, how much do I really love what I'm doing, what's the most important thing for me to accomplish, how do I make sure I do that? I learn what I need stillness and quiet for, and what I can do in snatches when I don't know how much time I have. This is a good ability to develop for later on, though I'm not very good at it yet (and honestly, I don't really like having to be good at it. Yet.)
I like going out with my brother and my cousins (Mindy is going to Northwestern next year, so I'll have 3 cousins in the area then) and old friends like Randy. Once in a while, I'll get to see IMSA buddies, and that's nice too. I haven't done this in a while, but I could also visit my elementary and middle schools and thank my teachers (one of the highlights of my high school career was going back to have breakfast with my kindergarten teacher). There are some classic growing-up spots I can go back to - in terms of sheer hours-spent, that'd be the two nearest public libraries, but there's also the pools I used to swim in and the parks I used to play in (largely renovated now). When I manage to borrow the car, I sometimes just go out to those places and sit and work quietly - and it's nice to be there, in the field where you first figured out how to steer your stunt kite, or the baseball diamond your little league team won the championship in (the last year you could be in the age league where girls could play baseball with the boys), or the sledding hill you drove your red wagon down (learning valuable lessons about suspension and handling along the way). The ice-cream shop whose seasonal opening and closing marked the start and end of summer. The hot dog place your middle-school band/orchestra/choir stuffed itself silly at in between watergun wars during Band Outing Day.
And then there's the parts of town you're still discovering, because you didn't get to see them when you were younger. That's pretty cool. There are trails in the nearby forest preserves that I didn't know existed; there are bike paths that I've never ridden on because I wasn't allowed to cross the street to them before. There are the places and pathways and playgrounds I snuck off to when I broke the rules and went out-of-bounds anyway; there's the drainage ditch full of dandelions beside our street where I'd slosh my bike around in big circles in the mud in an attempt to become tired when I needed to run but couldn't go very far. There are the parts of town that were built after you left home at 14, and those are good to discover too.
I need time to recover from being in Glenview, and I need to be aware of that and honor it instead of expecting myself to be able to instantaneously switch gears without any side effects. Being there does many things that are ultimately good for me; it also exhausts and drains me in a way nothing else does. (Well, maybe the Philippines, but that's got the jet lag factor too.) But I do learn from it. It's a good reminder, and it makes me refocus on who I want to become.
I'm back in Boston now; it's good to be home.