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At the Red Lion Inn, there were chocolates on our pillows and a magnifying mirror in the bathroom. We slept there Sunday evening after visiting my sister in West Stockbridge. The night before we stayed with my in-laws in Boston.

Two nights at the relatives’ homes are too many.

The red and yellow leaves were gorgeous. I don’t see much fall foliage in Manhattan. In the car both ways, my husband and I did not play the radio or word games. Unusual for us. This trip called for the sounds of silence. Our road trips, in general, remind me of those I took as a child with my parents. Safe. Comforting. Easy.

In Boston, we attended an event at which my sister-in-law gave a speech. So did a Kennedy grandson. My 96-year-old mother-in-law, just home from the hospital, has an aide and a nurse sleeping in. No barbs this visit. No digs at me. A sweet smile spread over her face when we showed her photos of our grandson.

The next night at dinner at my sister’s, we hugged and laughed. And reminisced. We still see it so differently. The long poem I wrote for her 50th birthday still hangs on her wall. Still dominates her dining room. I read it aloud, giggling over the lines about our pretentious great aunt and her podiatrist husband, who was instructed to cut our toenails whenever they came over, and our grandmother’s awful chicken. Poking fun at certain relatives’ idiosyncrasies is a constant. It is a constant with other pairs of siblings in my extended family and among my friends.

Back at the inn, my husband and I sipped merlot in the lobby by the fireplace. Tolstoy nailed it about happy families being the same and each unhappy one different in its own way, didn’t he?

So did Leonard Cohen when he said no one over age 11 should look into a magnifying mirror.


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