My Trip to Alabama - Shabbos and After
Shabbos in Alabama is always a challenge. The are a couple frum families in Birmingham, but I always feel guilty spending such a chunk of my short visit away from my family, so I usually end up trying to make it work at my mom's house, which it just doesn't really. It's a very strange feeling to spend Shabbos alongside the phone ringing, the cars coming and going, TV blaring and computer being typed on. I told my mom that this was the last Shabbos I will spend there - in the future, I will either schedule my visits not over Shabbos or I will spend Shabbos somewhere else. Friday night basically sucked. I ate alone and went to sleep early. Done. Saturday was better. My relatives came over for lunch and hung out for a while until it was time for them to catch their respective flights. I read a lot and when my mom got back we played a couple games. We took naps, and then I got up in time to have shalosh seudah, again by myself. When Shabbos was over, I went over to my dad's house. It doesn't sound like such a big deal, but it was because during my last visit I was informed that I was not welcome in my father's house, because my stepmother was upset with me over an event I didn't remember from three years before. This visit was to be an apology session to clear the air and mend lingering hard feelings. I arrived and sat down, my stepmother not in sight. One of my stepbrothers, who I hadn't seen in several years, was buzzing around, preparing for his departure. My stepmom came downstairs and acknowledged my presence as she was helping my stepbrother pack up. My stepbrother has a lot of personality and charisma. My dad likes to say he has never met a stranger (I have a brother who is similar, but can't quite manage the same level, so at least I am kind of used to it). He's actually managed to form a really nice relationship with my youngest brother, so it was nice to see them getting along. As he was leaving, he forcefully requested a hug from everyone, so I had to oblige. After he left, my father vacated the living room so that my stepmother and I could "talk." After sitting there for a couple minutes awkwardly, I told my stepmom that I didn't remember the incident, but that I was sorry about it if it did happen, and that I would like to put it behind us and feel welcome in her home. To my surprise, she told me she had gotten over it long ago, and that I was always welcome there. That it was my father who thought that I wasn't. She said she accepted my apology, and appreciated it, and assumed I had moved on as well, which of course I had, long ago. I was surprised by this, but very glad. I still am not sure where all the confusion came in, but am grateful to put it in the past and move on. I don't know that I will ever have a very close relationship with her, but it made me happy to know that she was able to put the incident behind her. I left my father's house with a big weight lifted from my chest. I hate feeling like I don't know what to do about a situation and that someone is upset with me about something I can't fix. I returned to my mom's house, we played a couple games before bed, and then I was back to New Jersey early the next morning. That's the story of my trip - some wonderful times, some thrilling times, some difficult times and some relieving times. We'll see what happens next year!