Saturday, June 16, 2012

Family Reunion

Location: Athens, GA

This is my first in 14 years. 1996. There are pictures. You can see me tucked in the front row since I wasn't any taller than elbow high, sporting my favorite purple hoodie with pink embroidered flowers. It was in NC at a beautiful house with lots of windows. And a creek I played in with an older second cousin named Corbin and my cousin Caleb. I would follow them up the creek and daily fall in the mud and get in trouble. I only distantly remember the various other relatives. Shadow memories, more than anything.

But then, it depends on what you consider a family reunion. If you count seeing my grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins, then this happens about once a year. Athens, Georgia is not an unfamiliar town to me. Despite having left here at age 9, I can still navigate some of the roads. I can get myself from Gmom's house to the Tingle Estate in Watkinsville. And I love being here with them. I love Emma and Katie. I love my grandparents. I love the Thanksgivings squished in the Tingle dinning room. It's like a reunion since we don't see them all the time.

But this kind of reunion? When we go back three generations to my great-great grandparents and invite everyone who has ever been born from their 8 children and children's children and children's children's children?

Yeah. It's been 14 years. Maybe even longer.

There are almost 100 people here.

The simple truth is that I don't know very many people. I know my cousins and what not. But I don't really know all these other people who come from distant sides of the family. There are some memories like of Cousin Jackie (my mother's cousin) teasing me about boys when I was little. Or of Great Uncle Jack's voice. But I don't really know them.

Three days into this affair, I have many stories I can share about this strange family. But right now I have two predominant feelings/observations:

1) These people like each other. They like me. And I really like them too. In reality, we're strangers. Strangers sitting around talking, swapping stories, and finding out who each other are. It's weird being related to so many people. And very cool.

2) Time is deep. And my own life story is very small and very short. When you start counting back the people within living memory and when they were born, you're easily in the late 1800s. And there are so many people in eachother's life web.

2) Three days wasn't long enough. It took the first 24 hours for my Yankee Social Ice to thaw. And we all leave in the morning.

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