When I was a kid, I was lucky to get to go on a vacation every summer. Certainly, I will always remember our trips to Florida and California (there’s a reason I’m known as the Disney Zealot in my house), but the ones I truly treasure are the ones in which we loaded up the car and drove across the country to visit my mom’s side of the family, replete with aunts, uncles, cousins, and pretty much 3 entire towns of people that knew and loved us. The travel to and from was always a blast, owing to the tremendous amount of work my parents, especially Mom, would do to find new roadside stops and adventures, and the creativity Mom put in to devise various and sundry ways to keep my brother, sister, and I from killing each other (or her us). And since we are all still breathing and in possession of all of our limbs, I’d say she succeeded. This history has already begun to serve me well as I inflict this tradition on the newest generation.
I am the first child of my generation on this side of the family, fairly well older than the rest to come and a good few years younger than the youngest of the previous generation, so I was something of the odd girl out at times. My closest cousin (3rd, I think, but maybe 2nd 1 removed, I have no idea) was a couple of years older than me, and while I’m sure his mother had to force him to spend entirely too many hours during his precious summer with a younger girl cousin he only saw once a year, I loved having someone who wasn’t an authority figure to hang around. I remember making up ridiculous stories about my brother’s beloved He Man action figures; running away from said younger siblings to the downtown dime store, blowing every cent we could glean from our relatives on candy; and later, watching him flirt with his girlfriend even though he was supposed to be driving me to the movies. Ah, good times.
We don’t get to spend as much time together anymore, since my once annual trips got fewer and farther between. It’s only in the past few years I’ve been able to make the yearly trek more frequently. He’s married to a truly sweet woman that we’re glad to have in our clan, and I’m more than a little occupied herding my feral children, but I make time to catch up with him as much as possible. He’s a brilliant, brilliant photographer, and I hate making talk shop, but I do anyway, trying to soak up as much from his talent as I can. I like to think it helps me have a little bit better eye taking my own snapshots (and also, a camera addict, which is becoming something of a problem). It might not be a lot of time, but it is quality time. I really hope we get to have more of the same this summer when we visit.
Today is my cousin Shane’s birthday, and, Cuzzin, I wish you all the best. Thank you for spending those lazy, humid days eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking pop with a geeky little fawning kid.