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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A warm welcome home

When Riley and I wandered out to get the newspaper this morning we were surprised to see some girls hanging around the driveway of my neighbor's house. After all, it was 6:30 in the morning.

But then I remembered... Sarah and Lauren, my neighbor's daughters, were due to arrive home after having spent the past six weeks in Taiwan. The girls (Sarah is 13, Lauren is 11) left a few days after school let out to spend time getting to know their parents' native country.

Frank and Ellen were excited about the girls practicing their Chinese with their many cousins, grandparents and assorted relatives. And the chance for them to immerse themselves in the culture. Frank flew over with them and spent two weeks. Ellen left two weeks ago to fly back with them. In between, the girls spent two weeks living with their relatives.

So I watched out my living room window, feeling a bit like a voyeur, as the gaggle of girls (and one boy) gathered in their drive. Two were sword-fighting with what looked like chopsticks. And then they excitedly grabbed their large welcome home sign and began jumping up and down just like young, gangly teenage girls are apt to do — all arms and legs and ponytails flinging about.

Sarah hopped out of the car and ran to hug her friends. I've known her since she was four and I was struck by how much older she appeared. Her hair had been long and now it was cut shorter. And then little Lauren, still with a ponytail down to her waist got out of the car, clearly excited to be home.

Their grandmother, whom they call Poh Poh, came back with them. She's spent every summer that I can remember with the girls. She always enjoyed seeing my Michael. One year she pointed to him, said something in Chinese and smiled.

"My Grandma says the baby has gotten big," Sarah translated. I nodded to her and said thank you for noticing.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll head over and get the full story. For now, we'll let the girls revel in being back home.

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