Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Egg Shells

I am a Painted Egg Shell

Easter Sunday came and went with things I had been missing during my time in the North: dying eggs with little kids, having a big late lunch, getting hugged a lot. The sheer joy of someone’s face as they wake up to find that the Bunny has come with his gifts of chocolate, a Batman action figure, and the surprise of your favorite cookies.

I missed my sisters. This was the first year the Easter Bunny didn’t really come to my parent’s house. I thought about driving to Nashville, but wasn’t motivated or asked, so I stayed in town.

I freaked out Sunday afternoon before my cousin’s family – my extended kin – came over, feeling that weird surge of adrenaline I’ll always get, a gift from my mom, the anxiety that for some weird reason they won’t like me, or that I’ll commit some sort of amazing faux pas that will be talked about for the next 20 years. It’s ridiculous. Of course they like me. And if they don’t, well…well nothing. Because there isn’t anything I can do about it. So I chilled out, relaxed, and had a good time. I had to retreat a couple of times later in the day to get some quiet time in my room, but on the whole I had a good time. Audrey and Jamie have fallen quite naturally into the roll of hosts for both their family’s holidays, and everyone agrees that this is a very good thing – they have a neutral house, ground where no old arguments or emotions have yet to fester and roil. Their home is untainted yet by in-fighting or major disagreements, and so everyone can for a few hours just be happy to see one another, and more willing to let little slights slide.

I even laughed when Fred, this older man who dates Jamie’s mom, said “Good God, don’t stand next to me, you’ll give me a complex!” Fred loves me; he grew up in Boston, and whenever he comes over we talk about the MBTA. I’m usually pretty good about remembering not to stand next to older men, but of course I’m not always on my guard about it. I tower over Fred, and even if I’m wearing a skirt, keeping my legs crossed at the ankles, and saying “yessir”, I’m something of an affront to older men. Especially in business situations, I do my best to stay seated around them, or keep to the other side of the table. As long as I’m careful about my body language, most of them never notice how tall I am. Because no one expects women to be this tall, they don’t realize the truth unless I stand right near them.

At my family gatherings, there is almost always a new baby.

A couple of times, when people talked about the new baby – a cousin by marriage – there was a silence around me. I had the same thought as everybody else then, I suppose. I’m the oldest woman in my family – including all the extended family – without a baby. The oldest by 6 years. And the next person in line, my cousin Connie, was there with her fiance. I watched as the fiance studied his future wife while she held the new baby. He’s just 21 or 22, the age I was when I was going through my infamous failed engagement. I’m not sure when they plan to marry, but when people asked when they planned to have a baby, Connie said in 3 years. Audrey plans her next baby in 5 years, though everyone wishes and hopes she’ll have another sooner. I think people have gotten used to the idea now that I might never marry, and while no one other than my immediate family (and by immediate I mean only my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and 1st cousins) occasionally question me about my intentions. I’m not even sure what my intentions are anymore.

But I do know this: Thursday I will drive up to Nashville, Friday Underdown and I will fly to West Virginia to meet up with Dust. We’re going to go and party, to watch a homocentric version of Waiting for Godot, we’re going to spend the weekend with drunk puppeteers in rural Appalachia, reading comic books and talking about small press publishing. And that’s what makes me happy, damnit.

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