I went home because it seemed the most practical way to have a holiday over the Christmas period, and gave me an excuse to be within reachable distance of lethargic_man. The brothers hadn't planned to be at home, but a combination of circumstances left them without many alternatives. And then, not only did this lead to the rare occurrence of having all seven of us together in the same place for a significant chunk of time, but we'd decided to do a big lunch with random relatives for Granny's birthday. So it ended up having even more in common with what most people seem to be doing this week, but which we have never normally bothered with.
Actually, it was pretty unstressful. Although there were tensions, everybody was being very adult and civilized about it all. So I had a really lovely time, just the relaxing break I needed. In many ways it was like going back to an idealized version of my childhood; all the lovely closeness and shared background and interest in eachothers' lives and fun, wide-ranging intellectual discussion, but without the bickering and rivalry and power-struggles of adolescence.
And so lovely to spend a decent amount of time with lethargic_man, without having to hoard up every precious minute or running around madly trying to make the most of tiny fragments of time together! I was also really pleased to be able to show him something of where I come from, and particularly to introduce him to Screwy after all this time! I'm used to bringing friends home and worrying that they may find the whole tribe at once intimidating: seven of us, all as extrovert and talkative and pushy as I am can be a little overwhelming. But on previous occasions when lethargic_man has been around, we have been scattered, as in fact is usually the case now that we've all left home. In fact, lethargic_man seemed quite happy to join in, and even succeeded in diverting some of the conversations onto SF-type futurology and other areas where he is knowledgeable. So this was very pleasing.
Another lovely thing was that doseybat and compilerbitch were able to come for Friday evening. Always good to see them, plus compilerbitch had not previously met any of my family. It was a wonderfully sociable evening; conversation threatened to degenerate into a shop-talking and general geeking competition, but with such a wide range of professional interests (plant taxonomy, engineering, maths, intellectual property law, philosophy, literature, programming, and probably more that I've forgotten!) it was fascinating. At one point my Dad had us all in stitches reading aloud from New Scientist of all things.
Saturday I dragged lethargic_man to shul with me. Mainly cos I wanted to go, but didn't want to leave him on his own for half the day. But also cos it's a part of my background that I was quite keen for him to experience. From my point of view, it was lovely to be back in my home community, and to see some old friends again (though many were away, and almost half the congregation were new since my time!) I think lethargic_man found the atmosphere too strange to be able to appreciate it much beyond its strangeness; it happens for various reasons that I am more familiar with his religious tradition than he with mine. And of course now we will be gossipped and speculated about endlessly, but I don't really care, I won't be around!
The downside to this was that since lethargic_man doesn't travel on shabbat, it meant walking approximately six miles there and back. Thankfully it was a beautiful day, clear and cool without being unpleasantly cold, and the walk through Grantchester was really rather pleasant. We'd intended to wait until shabbat went out so that we could get a bus home again, but by mid-afternoon, the sun was sinking and it was getting cold, so we didn't want to sit around, and ended up walking back as well. Neither of us is quite in the habit of walking 12 miles on roads like that, but apart from complaining muscles it was good fun. And hey, a whole day of almost uninterrupted conversation with a fascinating person is never a bad thing! I felt rather embarrassed when we arrived home and I realized I'd talked myself hoarse; lethargic_man has a habit I can never quite get used to of not interrupting me till I've completely finished speaking. But that was just for the last 3 miles or so, most of the time he was talking also. And we pointed out little things to eachother in town that we'd missed when we lived in Cambridge separately, and discovered a footpath that neither of us had been aware of. Nothing special at all, just a completely banal little footpath through some allotments at the back of Trumpington Road, but it was a particular delight to discover something new together.
Saturday was also my twenty-fifth birthday. P'tite Soeur gave me a very lovely book about teapots, how thoughtful and wonderful is my sister?! And lethargic_man gave me a French edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. This is very cool, cos last year he gave me an English edition of the same book, and I said I was too snobby to read French novels in translation. Only I never got round to finding a French copy of my own. And now I have one, and I am utterly charmed. And darcydodo gave me some LJ icons, which are probably going to be displayed in a GIP at some point.
Anyway, here I am back and about to make a start catching up with everyone else's journals!