Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Family Ties

My cousin Pam was in town this weekend with her wife, Kate. They had just been up to visit a few weeks ago and it was particularly nice to see them again so soon. To get to spend time together, when you're mostly caught up, means you just get to chat and enjoy each others company.

This visit, another cousin, Pam's brother, Tim, also came to town. Life has kept him busy the last few years, so he hasn't made a visit back to NY since, I think, 2002. Since then he's gotten married and he and his wife are expecting their first child. I am thrilled for him that he is about to step into the realm of parenthood. I think he's going to not only enjoy being a father, I think he might turn out to be one of the most truly exceptional parents I've ever known.

I didn't get to spend quite as much time with my cousins as I'd have liked. But I did get a couple of hours with them on Friday, and most of Sunday afternoon. Sunday in particular just melted away as we sat and chatted and laughed.

Somehow, there is just nothing like family. I have had a few good friends over the years. I have some pretty good friends now. And I love them and enjoy their company. I'm picky about friendships, and tend to be attracted to people who I feel a kinship with - who feel like family to me. But with actual family, people who've known you all your life, who've seen the good, bad, ugly, and truly horrendous - there's something else. A comfort that can't be felt at any other time with any other people.

These particular cousins, Pam and Tim, are about as close to siblings as I've ever had. We spent a lot of time together as kids - doing some of the most fun and silly stuff. Most of the games we played as kids were things we made up - and it seems that much of it was designed to see how outrageous we could be. Which means that we made fools of ourselves in front of each other all the time.

We spent our summers, re-enacting the Olympics in the backyard, hiding from the heat in the cool of the basement where we played our own variation of hide and go seek/tag that involved turning out all the lights and arming ourselves with flashlights, huddled around the kitchen table singing songs in the worst voices we could muster into a tape recorder until someone couldn't take it and pressed the stop button, reading comic books, and drawing the pictures from them, and acting out scenes from them - preserving them on that old tape recorder. And all those many, many hours developed a bond and a comfort that I think just doesn't fade away over the years. It just lies dormant between visits and fills me up as soon as I'm in their presence again.

Most of my cousins, the ones I was closest to, have spread far and wide, to North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, California. So often, I wish we were all near to each other so that our kids could have the experiences we had, growing up together, making connections with one another that never go away.

It's nice knowing there are people in the world who really know you. Not know what you've done, or even who know what to expect from you - because certainly there are gaps with family you don't see from day to day - you grow and change and you don't exactly do the same things you once did. But there's something in your core, some part of you that never changes, some thing inside you that was there as a kid before life and experience made you an adult, something that is just purely you, and only the people who knew you then, know that part. And really, I would venture to say, that only people who were kids along with you know that part, because I don't think adults can see it - they're too caught up in grown up stuff.

It was a special treat to relax in the way that I only can with people who know that center of me. In a time when my life seems particularly stressful, when I don't have a clue where I'm going or where I might wind up - it was just refreshing and replenishing to spend time with people who knew where I started from.

1 comment:

The Bear Maiden said...

Ah, yes. Family.

There's nothing like it :)