All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gathering 'Round the Hearth

I like to travel pretty much anywhere. I'm into going new places, meeting new people, and seeing things I would never, ever see at home. Normally, I make it my goal to visit one new place every year. This summer, I'm adding four new places to my "Been There" list: London, Dublin, Seattle, and Hawaii. And yet, somehow, I always end up back here. I even got surprisingly pissed off at my boss the other day when she implied that I was kind of a leaf in the wind who may not be around long. I raised my voice to her. (Good thing I'm in a union. Shit.)

At first I wasn't sure why I got so upset. After all, I consider myself a Citizen of the World, and I detest the idea of being tied down anywhere by anything. But lately, that seems to be changing, and I can only think of one little reason why...

My All Star

This is my nephew, Aaron. As I'm writing this, he's four and a half days old.

I am smitten with him. He is perfect.

The truth is that the farther I travel from home and the more people I meet, the more I like my family. Of course, over the years in my travels I've met lots of fantastic people I adore, but taking people for granted is much easier when you grow up fighting them for the bathroom. Now that I'm old(er) and wise(r) I've realized how rare cool families are. I have three siblings who rock, two gorgeous sisters-in-law, two parents who are still in love with each other, five aunts, three uncles, three living grandparents, four kick-ass cousins, a dog-nephew, a cat-nephew, and now, finally, a real nephew. Everybody's stable; everybody gets along. Even the dog and the cat. We even know and love my brothers' families-in-law.

Brother #2 entertains his niece by pretending his weight clips are earrings. She digs it.

The amazing thing Nephew's coming has done is give us all an excuse to spend more time together, especially my brothers and sister and I. We're all grown-ups with pretty demanding lives. Brother #1 is an engineer who schmoozed his way to the top of his company inside a few years, which means more money and less free time to spend it. Brother #2, in addition to working to support the Wife and the Little Guy, is a law student. Sister is a historian, and her projects take her all over the country to dig in the dirt and polish dusty things. I currently teach at my alma mater and hang my hat about fifteen minutes from the homestead, so I see the Parents pretty regularly, but when the Siblings come back to town, the party is on.

My cat-nephew, Guinness, takes a snooze in the bouncer seat. We've tried to explain to him that it's for the REAL baby, but he just gives us a confused look.

When they arrive, I'm sitting on the living room floor, restringing my little Epiphone. I have to do this at my mom's house because I need to borrow her tuner... and because I inevitably ask for her help at some point. I set the guitar down to exchange the customary greeting hugs and to gather up the little bundle of Aaron. Within minutes, one of the brothers picks up my guitar, finishes restringing it, and starts strumming. The other slips down the hall and returns a few minutes later with our mother's sacred Gibson, a guitar we were hardly allowed to touch until we were teenagers.

Over the course of the evening, the baby and the guitars are passed steadily around the living room. The brothers play around, poking fun at each other and putting on thick country drawls to croon "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" while their wives laugh and roll their eyes. My sister, who in her own words "wields a guitar like a drunken polecat wields an abacus", attempts to play a song she has dubbed "Mostly Only D" on account of the fact that it mostly has only one chord -- D. Every other line, the chord shifts to an A, and she predictably flubs the rhythm each time. She gives up before long, trades me the guitar for the nephew, then sits and improvises flawless harmonies to everything I play.

With some coaxing, we finally convince Mom to sing, which is what we've been hoping for all evening. She acts shy and embarrassed, but eventually she starts playing "All the Pretty Horses". If you don't have a mother who sang you lullabies, and this lullaby in particular, then I'm sorry. You've missed out. We all lose track of the time as she reaches back across years (and -- it makes me feel so old! -- decades) and pulls forward all the songs she sang to us in our childhood -- a handful of Joni Mitchell melodies, old campfire tunes and folk songs, and my father's favorite: "Kisses Sweeter than Wine".

Every day, the world is getting smaller. I want to see and experience a lot of it. At the same time, maybe it's not such a bad thing to be a little bit tied down here...


1 comment:

Think said...

What a hearthwarming blogpost :D

Maybe the world isn't as much getting smaller than that it's you getting bigger? (No I'm not calling you fat).

You sort of remind me of my dad. He was just like you, citizen of the world. He traveled loads and sought out different cultures. He was looking for something, some mystique there. The funny thing is, after his father passed away, something happened to him and he found this mystique in his own culture and family. He chose to settle down and was content with all the things he had seen and experienced and gave room for me and my little sis to grow.

We only have a small family, us four (dad, mom, me and sis). The "big familia" is half-way across the world in the philippines. So I sorta envy what you have, but enjoy a story like this alot!

So. Enough nostalgic rambling. Let's get to the point. That ol' Gibson your mom has, is it a ES-150-ish type? Piccahs!!!

Reg :D