Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Weekend with Emma's Family

So the worst part of the weekend, I realized last night, was the fact that I spent most of it lying. The very first thing my older nephew asked was, "Where's David?" I practiced my lie on him ("He got a new job recently, and he had to go to a meeting at the last minute"). I told this lie at least 20 times on Sunday. I also lied to the four people who knew the truth (mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law), in that they kept saying they just wanted to make sure I'm okay. Of course I am, I'd say; I'm fine. That's not quite as much of a lie, but it does blur a lot of the truth, like how my head spins sometimes. But I really did not want to go there.

One of the things that was interesting, in a meta kind of way, was to which people I almost told the truth. One was my mom's first cousin; she's a couple of years older than my mom, and I've always thought she was the best. She continues to be active in (and get arrested in the course of participating in) various anti-war and social justice movements, and she has a son in his early 40s who has schizophrenia. Because of my past (I once dated a man with schizophrenia) and some of the work I've done, I've talked to her a lot about her son. Not only did she come out here for the wedding, she came out for my Ph.D. graduation, which I thought was pretty cool. Another almost-told was my first cousin--my dad's youngest sister's oldest son. He's almost two years older than me, but because of how our birthdays fell, he was only a year ahead of me in high school. His younger brother and my younger sister were close in age (only a couple of months apart) and in the same grade in high school. His younger brother committed suicide about 17 years ago, so we were able to talk about our parents and how they've dealt with losing a child. I've always liked him a lot, and I'm glad to get back in touch with him. He was also one of the two cousins who made it a point to tell me that their daughters remind them of me--the daughters have the same color hair as me, wear it long, get good grades, and are . . . strong-willed. That was kind of entertaining, and flattering, if you want to know.

Two of my mothers friends want to work in my bakery--one wants to do wedding cakes (she used to have a cake business), and the other, my parents' next-door neighbor and long-time friend, loves to make bread and would work in the bakery for free.

My younger nephew is scary-smart, though I'm not sure everyone realizes it. First off, he's reading--he won't be six until September. And I don't mean reading simple stuff, I mean reading whatever he comes across. His older brother has apparently taught him multiplication (only through the twos, but still). But most entertaining was the Wagon Experiment. When I got there on Saturday, he was standing in a wagon and riding it down a hill. It crashed and he fell out and bumped his arm and that was the end of that. Sunday after the party we were hanging around outside again--brother and older nephew were shooting their bows again (my brother usually uses his recurve bow against my nephew's compound bow, but bro had pulled out his compound bow that evening--and my nephew was still beating him, I believe). Younger nephew had the wagon on a different hill, and he'd replaced himself in the wagon with a bucket of rocks. (I'd also told him he needed a crash test dummy, so he went and got one of his stuffed animals.) He was setting up rocks on the hill and aiming the wagon at it--and there seemed to be some complicated reason for this. I asked him what he was trying to accomplish with the rocks and he said he wanted the rocks on the ground to strike the axle in such a way as to make it turn. Why, I asked. Well, so when a truck hits something it doesn't flip over (or turns in a particular way, or doesn't go off the road; I forget the precise thing he wanted to have happen). Is the wagon axle the same as a truck axle, I asked. So he took me over to the truck and pointed out the axle. There was also a bit about what happens to the engine in a collision, and where the airbags were, and so on. One could speculate that this is, in part, a reaction to the fact that he was in the truck (a different one) when my sister-in-law hit and killed someone a few weeks ago (an elderly woman ran a stop sign and my SIL broadsided her--it was absolutely not SIL's fault, and she couldn't have prevented it). But one should also notice that my nephew had a whole experiment and a paradigm and who knows what else going on--which I thought was pretty impressive for a five-year-old.

The party itself was fun, mostly, lying notwithstanding. The uncle who's going through chemo was there, looking better than I expected, but still not great. (Ever since I was tiny, he'd wait until I'd give him a kiss and then say, "Best one I had all day." He still does this, much to the delight of both of us.) There was much dancing, though not by me (I don't know how to dance, really), except when the cousin mentioned above snagged me and when younger nephew got me out there. I also for the first time heard the complete story about how my parents met, but that will have to wait for a subsequent post.


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