Family Reunion

What I want to say is that it is a terrible idea to start a 17-hour drive the day after the school year ends. And that this is the reason we somehow forgot my suitcase. And that I had packed all the toothpaste, among other things. And that I had to replace everything which is part of the reason I was fussy until about four hours ago.

What I want to say is that 18 people in one house is, more or less, 12 too many, even if one of them is my adorable 13 month old niece who, for reasons none of us can quite fathom, is basically happy all of the time.

What I want to say is that South Carolina is hot, even at the beach, and that most of us are ridiculously sunburned even though we’ve only been here three days. And we were too far away to really appreciate yesterday’s fireworks, and what were we celebrating, really, since each day the beach appears to be full of straight white couples and Roe has been overturned and there were 21 mass shootings in the US between July 1st and 4th and as we drove down here we passed within spitting distance of at least two of them.

But then I meet my sister’s partner, a woman who makes her very happy and who, as it turns out, makes a delicious daiquiri. And my Cuban sister-in-law is tucked away in the shade, reading and cooing at the baby. And my brothers are on the beach, kicking a soccer ball with my son while my partner plays in the ocean with my nephews. And I marvel that my family has dealt with addiction and divorce and depression and suicide attempts and miscarriage and abortion and money troubles and the list goes on and on. Some of us own guns; some of us abhor guns. Some of us are vegan; some of us are enthusiastic meat-eaters. Some of us have MDs; some of us never finished college.

By all rights, we should not get along at all, and sometimes we don’t, but for the week of the family reunion, day after day we laugh and love and find the things we have in common. The grill sets off the fire alarm – again – and the kids try to fill the pool with water balloons and then, after dinner, we have a birthday cake to celebrate birthdays we’ve missed. Tonight, we are all in the main room with the baseball game on mute while Jamie and Donna serenade us with old time bluegrass music and about half the family sings the chorus.

This family reunion – so many of us joined in such unexpected ways – doesn’t fix everything, of course, but it’s not nothing. Some nights, once I’ve recovered from the long drive and the end of the school year and all its attendant fatigue, I think it might be (almost) everything.

Many thanks to Two Writing Teachers, whose weekly Slice of Life keeps me writing and thinking.

9 thoughts on “Family Reunion

  1. It is somewhat miraculous that families can and do gather in these chaotic times when our differences are so pronounced. Perhaps we’ve all grown tired of the discontent, and I do think liberals are less likely—in general—to say, “told you so,” which helps. Whatever it is, take it. It’s a start. Maybe more healing will follow. Maybe I’m still a bit optimistic. Enjoy the reunion and travel safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe we passed you in the road…we traveled to and from NC this past week. This does sound like everything…when everyone is together and more or less happy. Soak it up.


  3. I think I could write a whole post in response to yours. I love it so much. The highs, the lows. The juxtaposition of the best and the worst. The whole messy love part of it. I’m currently en route home from a family gathering of 13 in Tennessee (17 hour drive–but we split it up!) which had moments of quiet content and rolling laughter and shared tears and searing heart-brimming perfection punctuated by damaged cars and positive Covid tests and very different responses to the latter. And always the back drop of current events. I’ve been wondering how or what to write about our time, and your post is a fabulous mentor piece.
    Also, I have to tell you that I left my suitcase out of my car when I took off a few days after school for a 3-night solo retreat. Oops. Luckily I remembered about 45 minutes from home and my darling daughter met me halfway. Still. I get it.


  4. You’ve got me thinking about the grace and grit that comes with hanging out with family members. Your list of ‘marvels’ reminds me of the things that could be on one of two lists- ‘the stuff that no one knows about’ and the ‘the stuff that everyone knows about’ either way, in my fam the reasons that keep us from talking about these topics sometimes need to be on a list of their own. One half of my fam is totally down with nut and bolts of everything, the other half is more down with pleasantries only.


  5. “And I marvel that my family has dealt with addiction and divorce and depression and suicide attempts and miscarriage and abortion and money troubles and the list goes on and on. Some of us own guns; some of us abhor guns. Some of us are vegan; some of us are enthusiastic meat-eaters. Some of us have PhDs; some of us never finished college.”

    This hit me.

    Here is why: I think, and I could be using too much space and putting too many words that are not mine out there, but could be a sign of healing. The fact you can “zoom out” (Roe vs Wade; shootings — that our world is massively f**ked), but that there is somehow inherent beauty (your family). Someone wise told me that — once you can see the beauty through the hurt, you can start to hope — to dream of what could be…

    This is the start of that dream. Thank you.


  6. Sounds like an amazing trip! Bring me a lemonade from Chick-Fil-a! 😀

    Family is an interesting concept in this modern world. We don’t need them for survival as humans once did, but we need them just the same!

    Liked by 1 person

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