Monday, January 29

Phamily stories

Today I tagged along with Phil to his mom's house for a quick daylong visit. His sister Brooke was there with Rylee, who is now just over two years old, and eventually his aunt and grandmother came over to retrieve his cousin Spencer, who had spent the night with his brother Rickey. We sat around in a circle in the living room and I listened as everyone exchanged stories about their time as children.

These are stories I've heard before, actually, but stories whose edges seem to get increasingly dull in my memory because they get buried beneath the narratives I store up in the ol' gourd regarding my own family. I honestly feel like there's a finite amount of space in my head for stuff like quirky family stories. I want to write them all down because I can't rely on my memory to keep them all clean and separated; they tend to bleed together and become vague and sloppy imitations of the real thing after a while.

Brooke is a particularly good storyteller. I've always admired the way she transmits details that define moments. She can remember the most obscure things about movies and then basically recite scenes, stage directions included, to great comic effect. She's even better when she's recounting some story involving Sissy (Phil's grandmother), a hoe, a cigarette, a snake, a back yard, and lots of "Lord Jesus, in your name I rebuke this demon!" proclamations.

"I just remember she was wearing these white shorts," Brooke explained, moving her hands to illustrate their length. "And they were just vibrating because she was so nervous!"

I can see Sissy out there in the grass — the children on the porch, snickering at her in awe and horror — hair perfectly coiffed, a long cigarette in one hand, both hands clasped desperately around the handle of a rusty and cobwebbed garden hoe, thwacking violently and repeatedly at some tiny little black yard snake until it is chopped into inch-long pieces, muttering stern prayers of protection and authority to the heavens as if she is a better Eve, fighting off the serpent before it even gets a chance to speak.

And it's just so perfect and so funny, and I'm so glad I know that story.

It makes me so happy that I've had the opportunity to, over the past decade, nudge myself — comfortably, as far as I can tell — into life as part of Phil's Phamily, because their stories and experiences enrich my life so much, even if half the time I look at what goes on and I can only shake my head and wonder, WTF? That's a family dynamic for you; I do it with the people whose DNA pulses in my mitochondria right now. Second-guessing the people you love is just something you do, I guess. You get puzzled, sometimes frustratingly so, but you keep coming back and sitting around living rooms and listening to the laughter and drawing happiness from it.

And, if you're lucky enough to have a family with a small child in it (my family is not, at the moment; our youngest is about to hit double digits), you can sit around and marvel at the most basic things: Correct identification of colors, subdued bouncy honky dancing, ballpark name pronunciations, Dora the Explorer, etc.

I generally don't consider myself to be a baby or child person; I am intensely afraid of children because of their simultaneous powerlessness and ability to command everyone's attention, for good or ill. Also, if a child peers into my eyes, I always get the feeling that he/she sees right through me. But sometimes I hit my stride with kids, especially kids in my family or Phamily, and we hang out and play and have a good time and no one gets freaked out. Today, even though I hadn't seen her for several months, Rylee took to me and spent the evening trying to keep my attention. She pawed through my purse and ripped apart a tampon and reapplied Lip Smackers on her lip and left eyelid about fifty times, and giggled at her own likeness in the viewfinder of my camera. And shortly after she woke up from her nap, she reached out to me to hold her.

And for a split second, I thought, I could handle this, this having a young 'un to tote around. Because she is so sweet and personable and damned entertaining. And, while it's not something I'm planning on confronting any time within this decade, it's a feeling I don't often get that I'm actually glad surfaces every now and then.

And then, while she was sitting on my lap, I felt a warm wetness spread from the top of my thigh around to my asscrack, as I realized her Pull-Up was surrendering its usefulness in the face of a deluge of post-nap urine. And honestly? I didn't really mind all that much. I was just happy she actually wanted to be sitting my lap.

Watch the kid, hopped up on King Dongs, dig through my purse and instantly find my drugs. Shortly after I cut off the camera (please enjoy my drawl; "tylenols" ???), she had unzipped the thing, grabbed a handful, and was raising them to her mouth. Lord, lord.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. Sometimes I think that spill I gave you on VSE is complete bullshit. Sometimes I think that I should just marry Jeff and procreate. I give it serious, SERIOUS thought.

Like, if I were in Buffalo now and he asked, I'd say yes. Period. And then I'd expedite the process.

I've given it so MUCH thought that I have an engagement ring picked out, and I happen to know it's okay with his Mom if I wear a black wedding gown.


What are we going to do with ourselves?

Mon Jan 29, 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I don't know.

The thing is, I don't want to get married and start a family. I don't see myself wanting to want to get married and start a family for a very long time, if at all.

That's why it's a surprise to me when I think to myself that I actually could do any part of that stuff at all.

Soooo many things would have to change in my life for me to start thinking about that stuff in any serious way. Soooooo many things.

Mon Jan 29, 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I'm clinging to hard to that idea because in some part of me it feels like a relief. Like, "I'm finally done!"

Probably not the best reason to enter into a marriage. Let alone parenthood.

But the parenthood part wouldn't come anytime soon.

I shudder every time I think of my chance of having twins.

Mon Jan 29, 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I meant to write "clinging so hard."

Mon Jan 29, 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger John H said...

clinging to hard....accidental, but kinda nice

Wed Jan 31, 10:40:00 PM  

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