Start With Remembering
When I was a kid, I thought about the best thing we got to do was to go down to visit our family in Duxbury. My Aunt Mary and Uncle Ken had a house on Bay Road and we would go quahogging when the tide was out. I remember stomping in the mud to see if a bubble popped up and then digging like crazy to get them and put them in a plastic pail to bring up the house. I think there were blueberry bushes too, but maybe that part is my imagination. My Aunt Mary was from Scotland and I can remember that voice so clearly. She was always so sweet and nice and somehow fragile. I remember how the house smelled and how neat it seemed and how careful we needed to be not to mess anything up. There is an enormous old tree on the property we used to climb and the driveway was dirt and we had to hose down our feet because of the summer dust, and they had to dry in the sun, sitting on the lawn, before we were allowed inside.
Jimmy lived there too - he was ancient even then I think, and he liked to play checkers. My Uncle Ken moved to the US when he was just 5, coming alone with his mother. I don't know what happened, but she didn't stay and Jimmy became Uncle Ken's guardian. I think Jimmy was the Harbormaster in Duxbury, which is a job his adopted son had years later. Aunt Mary and Uncle Ken had a daughter Susan, who is actually my mom's cousin since my Aunt Mary is really not my Aunt but rather my mother's, and she was married to Tommy. Their house was down the road a ways and that's where my cousin Julie lived with her three brothers. She was a year older than I was and she seemed perfect to me. She had a pony - A PONY - named Pretzel (and later one named Fonzie) and she could ice skate like nobody's business. I can remember ice skating with her down the cranberry bog and watching her spin and thinking I could never, ever be that good at ice skating. She always seemed so much more grown up than me and I really wanted her to like me.
Maybe like most families, stuff happens and those times become a memory and not something you keep doing. I hadn't seen or talked with Julie for a very long time. Then I found her on FB and it was like a thread to the past. And tomorrow evening, after what we think is about 38 years, we are going to see each other again. She and her husband are threading their way through LA traffic to come to our hotel, to meet us at the bar for drinks, and I will get to tell her what she probably never knew about how much I looked up to her as a kid. She's a teacher now, so nothing has changed.
I anticipate this vacation is going to create many new and wonderful memories for me and Mike, and seeing Julie again, meeting her husband and reconnecting my old memories to our new life, seems like the absolute best start I could have hoped for.