So it’s only been a week but it already feels as if my trip to Washington D.C. was a millennium ago. In my excitement to post about my East Coast adventures, I failed to mention in my last post that my long lost cousin and his girlfriend were staying with my family for a little while. I’m usually not a fan of people who are essentially strangers staying in my bedroom – and trust me, when my mom first sent me a text informing me of the whole ordeal when I was in D.C, I was far from gracious about it – but as things usually do, it turned out to be okay!
It has actually ended up being more than merely ‘okay.’ I am downright thankful that God orchestrated this tiny family reunion and although they were supposed to be into their own apartment before I got home (which they weren’t) and although I had to sleep on the couch for the better part of a week (which I did,) I ended up being quite happy to do so.
My great uncle David passed away about ten years ago and this week has given me plenty of reasons to think of him more often than I already do. I have had other loved ones pass away during my lifetime but most of them departed and left hazy memories in my childhood mind. Uncle David, however, was – ahem! – boisterous… and nothing about my memories of him is hazy at all. He was a large, antagonistic, kind hearted man who did his best to convince the world that he was an old Scrooge… and as I recall, he was fully capable of amusing AND disgusting people at the same time with very little effort on his part. That was my favorite thing about him. Some people just couldn’t figure out how to respond to the ridiculous and sometimes offensive things that he would say, and I was left trying to figure out whether I was laughing at what he had said or the faces the listeners made while they tried to figure out the appropriate response.
Johnny, the cousin that was staying with us recently, was only 10 years old when I saw him last. My aunt and uncle would bring him and a few of his siblings over every week or two and I would hang out with them while the adults played dominoes at the dining room table. I spent more time with my other cousin, Melissa, than I did with the boys and therefore I never really knew Johnny that well.
As it turns out, we have a lot of things in common and I was more than a little bummed out when their apartment became available, meaning I would no longer see him and Amanda (his girlfriend) every day. We both like reading, both books and graphic novels, watching movies (he has this knack for being able to assign the title to my vague, admittedly crappy descriptions of movies I saw more than five years ago… I am horrible at remembering titles and names of EVERYTHING!), and expressing ourselves creatively. I like to write while he likes to draw. His birthday is coming up but I just couldn’t wait… I picked up some pencils and paper for him and hope that he will get around to drawing the comic that we daydreamed a little bit about! The guy at Galactic Greg’s (a comic book store downtown) even said that we could put it out on the counter for customers to have if we wanted, which would be a small dream come true for the both of us, I think.
It turns out that his girlfriend and I have quite a few things in common as well. We went out with my sister one night and picked up a few things for Johnny and a few things for her at Rue 21. Most people know that I used to work there and I could justify stopping in there every day if I had the time. She also wants to go to cosmetology school so we did her hair and reminisced about my experiences in beauty school and in the hair industry.
They both turned out to be lovely people who are working hard to get out of a bad situation and make something of their lives. Upon realizing this, I was ashamed for my initial revulsion to the idea of them staying in my room while I was gone. I was ashamed of my hesitation to get to know them… of my selfishness in wanting to keep my family all to myself in our safe little bubble that perhaps isn’t always as safe as I think it is. Perhaps it is more dangerous to refuse to let people in…
When we were in Washington D.C, my friends Sam and Alexis were spending time with Laura and I in her room one evening. When we thought we heard a knock at the door, Alexis went to answer. Instead of looking through the peephole, she opened the door a fraction of an inch and peeked through the crack. Sam and I made fun of her for being afraid that it was a “weirdo” and opening the door instead of looking through the peephole, and she explained that in scary movies it is always bad to look through the hole. She explained that it freaked her out. We laughed some more… Sam said it could be a rapist killer… I said it could be the craiglist killer… and then Sam said, “Or have you heard of real life, where it’s just humans?!”
His point was that the bad guys or weirdos usually look just like you and me and that we have to be careful to just open our doors to them… but in the case of Johnny and Amanda, I am glad my family opened the door. It turns out that I was the weirdo, not them.
Or maybe…just maybe… we turned out to be the same kind of weirdo… just humans trying to figure out how to make the best lives out of what we’ve got.
By the way, Uncle David… when I was 14, you told me I should wear pink more often and that I looked good in in. I punched your arm and told you that’s stupid, and you gave me a noogie. I’m sure you’re looking down and already saw this… but I bought a pink jacket recently, and I want you to know that I’ve been thinking of you whenever I’ve worn it. Your sister and your nephews turned out to be pretty great people, although we both already knew that. And you should be proud of my Dad. I know if it were one of us in Johnny’s shoes and he was gone but you were here… you would have done the same for us.
Until next time,