Today I’ve decided to blog away the sad, which is sort of like praying away the gay, only not total horseshit. Here goes.
I’ve always looked forward to family events. When I was very young I would attend Christmas and Thanksgiving parties with my family and watch as the grown ups drank beer and played Pictionary: boys against girls, loser does the dishes. In the summertime we would go boating and even sometimes camping, even though I’m not terribly outdoorsy. (Gosh you never knew did you!) If we weren’t boating we would play volleyball in our backyard at a 4th of July party and the grown ups would drink beer and laugh and someone would surprise someone else by starting a water balloon fight. At night my uncles and cousins and step dad would play kick the can with my friends and me, also with beer and laughs, in the cul-de-sac where our house was. I looked at my aunts and uncles and grandparents with awe and longing. I loved them and I couldn’t wait to be one of them.
Now I’m 40 and have my own parties, only there is rarely beer for this girl. It’s just yucky and I still consider it to be for grown ups, which I can’t possibly be. I have blue hair for Chrissake. But laughter always. I still love being surrounded by these people. And those of us who were young are older and those who were babies are having their own babies and still I look forward to any opportunity to be with them. My first friends were family members: Cousin Danny from moms side of the family; he would play Baby Joey whenever we played Barbies because Joey was way less girlie and it was probably not as though he was playing Barbies at all, right? On my dads side of the family my first friend was Cousin Christian, but everyone just called him Cree. He and his brothers were the first people I ever watched play baseball, something else I couldn’t wait to do. I have so many fond memories of them both. Perhaps I’ll write about them some day.
The person I became closest with at a young age was my cousin Lacee. When she was born I knew I would hate her because my grandma and everyone else had another baby to love that wasn’t me. I’m five years or so older than Lacee so I was pretty little when she was born. She grew into a Grandma’s Girl like me. We were like, the presidents of my Granny Goose’s fan club. We still are. By the time I was old enough to babysit, I’d gotten over the attention I was sure she’d steal and just loved her instead. She was my first try at being a mommy. (Poor girl. Christ, I should have known right there I would be a bit sucky at it)
As I am now a weird adult, so was I a weird child. In those days I had a white day bed and instead of sleeping on it, I slept under it; even when I had a sleepover or was babysitting Lacee (and it was not just so the hatchet man couldn’t find me when he came into my room at night. I’m pretty sure all the cool kids were doing it.) I can remember very clearly, and I know she can too, that when she was about six (give or take) she slept over with me, under my bed, and slept with her arms in a strangle hold around my neck and her legs in a strangle hold around my waist. She did not let up as the night progressed. On the contrary, she was like human Devil’s Snare, where, if I tried to wriggle my way free she would only tighten her grip on me. So I accepted my fate of discomfort; I loved her too much to be upset by one night of very little sleep, but eventually I did fall asleep. Only to be awoken in the middle of the night by Lacee Nicole singing her ABC’s at the top of her tiny little voice. My memory is a little foggy here, as I can’t remember if she was awake or asleep at the time; but she was off pitch and loud and absolutely, irresistibly adorable.
I wonder now if she slept in the Devil’s Snare position because we had watched Nightmare on Elm Street, but I can’t remember if that was before or after the night of ABC’s. I do remember she was at our house quite often. Our family was still pretty close at the time, and not as big and spread out as it is now. One time we played hide and seek. I know it was me and Lacee, but can’t remember if it was my step sisters Jenna and Shana who were with us, or if it was the neighbor kids from across the street, Mike and MacKenzie, but I do remember zipping Lacee up in a suitcase in our unfinished basement. Man, ain’t no one was finding my sweetie pie. Time passed, everyone had been found but her, and the more I think about it the more i think it was Jenna and Shana with us. Jenna hated being “it.” Boy did she. So naturally I was an asshole about it and loved that I’d hidden Lacee so well. I said out loud “don’t come out Lace, just keep still” or something to that effect; only to hear her small voice cry out in a loud whisper, “ok.” So yeah, game was over at that point, which was probably for the best because I think Jenna was good and pissed by then, and, looking back as an adult, I think it was a damn good thing I hadn’t smothered Lacee to death zipping her up like that. I’m pretty sure I left a little airway though; but that might just be wishful remembering.
When we were both a bit older, Lacee and her mom moved to San Diego, and I got married and moved to San Clemente. It was awesome because I still got to see so much of her. She would still come and sleep over, only now she was older and required actual food, which, as anyone who knows me can attest to, was not my thing. But I didn’t care. I was 20 and cool because I was a grown up with a car and money (these were my thoughts) so we went to McDonalds and got buckets -literally, buckets – of French fries. Then it was a stop at Luckys, our local grocer for Oreos. Now that is a meal of champions. Olympians and shit people.
I remember all of this with fondness. It was with Lacee, as well as with my Baby Daddy and friend, Brandon, that I discovered and fell in love with California. For years after I moved back to Utah, I thought I would go back. That doesn’t seem likely now, but I guess you can never say never. I did once and got my ass burned pretty good.
I like to think that Lacee remembers this with fondness too, and that, perhaps, she and I have contributed to each other’s grown up lives in some fundamental and slightly fucked up way. We discussed today that it is perhaps she whom I may blame for my anxiety; after spending those nights in complete silence, waiting for sleep until the baby orangutan attached to me would start wailing the ABC’s. Talk about anticip—–ation*. And I, in my little way have perhaps helped form a little of the way she has in the kitchen, which is apparently not much of a way at all, at least compared to the culinary prowess of the rest of our family. Sorry about that Lacee Nicole. But fries and Oreos and goulash are all pretty badass, right? Also, and we didn’t discuss this, but if you’re closterphobic, I can’t imagine it would be because I zipped you up in a suitcase as a five year old. No way. Right?
Eventually Lacee got older and my aunt Jill had her babies, Cody and Weston, both of whom I babysat. Those are tales I will get into another day but what I remember most about babysitting those little boys was how, one night when Jill and my uncle Brad came home from wherever it was they had gone and it was time to go home, uncle Brad gave me a single red rose along with my babysitting cash. To this day I remember that as one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. Such a simple gesture. And if he were still alive, I’m not sure he would even remember it; but I will never forget it. It’s just one more memory firmly planted way deep down, one more way the grown ups of my childhood shaped who I am and the kind of person I’ve become. How lucky is that? Pretty lucky. All the bad that has happened to me in my life can’t touch all the good these people have brought me.
More later. They’re pretty fabulous, my family. I’ll tell you enough to just make you jealous and then be all “haha they’re mine, bitches! Now go find your own orangutan!”
Ps. I realize there was a lot of beer and laughter when I was growing up. I swear they’re not a bunch of drunks. And if any of them are, I’m quite sure they are very distinguished drunks, thank you very much.
PPs* if you didn’t catch the anticip—–ation thing, then you apparently ought to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show before tuning into this blog again. Honestly I’m not even sure I want you as a reader now.
Ppps. If you don’t know what Devil’s Snare is you are obviously not a big enough nerd to be in my club. Harry Potter people. Read it. This won’t be the last time I reference that bit of genius.
Pppps. Brad if you’re reading this from Heaven, thanks again for the rose.