As i grow more comfortable in my 4 decades of weather-worked skin, i more frequently than ever, catch snapshot glimpses of clear-as-crystal family traits.
some inherited, others learned.
sometimes it’s triggered by a glance at my hands, or the freckles on my summer skin, or my just-crooked-enough-to-be-considered-crooked teeth. it’s the wavey curl of hair at the top of my forehead. it’s the legs and shoulders built to endure. it’s the super special earlobe-extra that not just anyone can flaunt…
other times, it’s the tone of my voice. it’s the wag of my finger. it’s my phraseology…
less frequently, yet still present…it’s my insistence on proper speech, proper grammar, and proper punctuation. it’s my moral code. it’s my old catholic self-righteous indignation.
sometimes i feel the hug and hear the giggles of my aunt Grace. who taught me to gleefully live as authentically as you can. you be you. don’t try to wear a life that doesn’t fit. you will be loved and adored and honored if you simply just be yourself. it may not be the way all the other people are doing it. but thats actually the point. she crushed the shit out of that decades before it was cool.
and it may just be conjecture, but sometimes i notice my Aunt Ruth trying to give me discreet high-fives from the balcony of her cruise ship. actually, it looks more like she is trying to pass me a tumbler of Campari. she bucked the system too. went about it on her terms. she was a ballsy woman. somehow, i feel like when it sifted out, i got the best of it. of course, i came decades later. when it was actually the best time so far for women to be self-actualized on this planet.
For two weeks this month, i spent every single day with my family. mom. dad. brothers. sister. aunts. uncles. cousins. nieces. nephews. and in-laws. it remains my most important thing.
i moved to Wyoming close to 20 years ago. 1999. and i ALWAYS come “home”. i ALWAYS do the loop. Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia. i love it. i love taking my little tribe to dip in and out of the lives of everyone else’s tribes. i love knowing that i can make my life in Dubois, Wyoming without sacrificing the family ties that have both tethered and inflated me my entire life.
and maybe its because i never stopped dipping in for the annual experiences, that i feel so connected to the family patternings and what exactly does our DNA transcript…????
of all the traits that filter through the Burnett and Campbell and Lavin and Carney tree, i am most grateful to have inherited the quest for adventure.
i watched the Fraggle Rock when i was a kid. My favorite character was Uncle Traveling Matt. He’d send postcards back from his trips out in the human world. his character was so far removed from all the other Fraggles, he was not participating in their business. yet they gather round to listen to Wembley (once he retrieved the postcard from Sprocket) read his postcards aloud. they marveled at Uncle Traveling Matt’s adventures. i knew i wanted to be Uncle Traveling Matt….with the whimsey of my Aunt Grace, the steadfast confidence of my Aunt Ruth, and the spice of adventure i certainly inherited from my grandmother, Betty.
I’d make a nest at the base of the couch. between my grandmother and the coffee table. she stayed up late. like real late. who knows what she did at night before Turner Classics? she watched old movies into the wee morning hours, then snored all morning long. right there in the middle of the living room! her circadian rhythm was unpredictable. you never knew exactly what you were going to get…but you could bet your bottom dollar that she would require an extra “40 winks” at least the first three times you tried to wake her.
when she ran, she ran. once, she remembered, at 2 o’clock in the morning, that the cook would need the key to open the building in the morning. she proclaimed with prudent alertness that right-now, at 2am, we must pile into her Dodge Aspen and drive to “Cook’s” house to deliver the key. we listened to the Music Man soundtrack on the way there. it certainly seemed like a grand adventure to me. my parents were not doing anything at 2am.
when i stayed with my Grammie, my days were chock full of adventure. i never knew what to expect, and it was all so delightful to me. would we be seeing Russel at the corner store? would we be getting baseball cards with a stick of gum? would we be deep breathing at the sight of her giant friend, Francis? would we pack up a picnic and spend the day at Merle Sarnoski? the options were endless and they all screamed adventure. life was lived with all senses alert. i learned to know how i wanted to live. simply. in love. with everything around me. especially when it is family.
i am the kind of grateful that actually bows down to an altar, about sharing the DNA with women who chose to remain authentic, despite the murmuring of the town. the women who remained true to themselves first, despite the cost. the women whose life of whimsy and imagination still holds a vital role. the woman who chose to cross the imaginary lines of religion and age, and sought to see how it could be.
right now, my wee peeps are in Kansas. In the past 24 hours, they have rescued a swarm of honey bees and relocated them into two hives. they have squished their baby cousin and have been held in the arms of the people who love them dearly. they have harvested blackberries, and watermelons, and peaches, and tomatoes, and eggs. they have sweltered in the heat and the humidity that we can only learn about through books. they are adventuring. they are experiencing. they are living.
it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of expedition. like…hey- if you wanna do this, lets pack your bags for tomorrow morning! and they were in. adventure and experience are in their DNA too. whew!
adventure. opportunity. experience. love. family.
that’s all we are aiming for. that seems to be all that matters.