Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chronicles of Life... Family Affair

The Lawson’s shut it down again!
I had the pleasure of attending my second annual family reunion this past weekend in Jacksonville.
Yeah we started late.
There had been some talk for years of having one, but we all procrastinated on the idea.
The family finally realized how desperately we needed to have a reunion after my great-grandma died in 2006.
I think we brushed off the idea for so long because my family is pretty close knit in one way.
Church service every week was a mini family reunion for me. Pearl – my grandmother – and all her progeny went to the same little white church by the side of the railroad.
We all lived no less than 15 minutes apart from each other.
Everyone, grandchildren and great grandchildren included, have stayed extensively with Pearl.
Before day care, there is Pearl care. Those who are in day care all go to the same one.
And holidays, oh the holidays, are jam packed with people.
Who needed a family reunion? We were thick as thieves with each other.
But that was mainly with those of Robinson (RIP Henry) descent.
Here’s a quick family tree for you.
My grandmother is the oldest of 11 children. She and two other siblings live in Jacksonville. Three are dead. One is MIA and four live in Belle Glade.
The Jacksonville crew is pretty close with each other, but Pearl’s children are a clan all in themselves.
We didn’t really know the Belle Glade crew that well. We only made that painstakingly long and boring trip a few times.
My third time would have been the funeral.
The Glades group is probably a clan to themselves down there.
Something needed to be done to unite us all.
So we made a pilgrimage to Belle Glade in 2007 to celebrate two hearts - Hambrick and Emma - that helped produce the Lawson family.
All the remaining siblings, except for the MIA uncle, and most of their children gather together at the reunions.
Some people are just not going to come, no matter what. But hopefully one day we all can reunite.
I mean, who would want to miss out on all the fun?
We have the kiddie crew, the young and fabulous crowd and the old timers.
The children act like a pack of wild animals. The fab adults play games and socialize and the old folks talk about the good old days.
There was talk of switching the reunion to every other year after this one.
Luckily one of the young and fabulous spoke out against it.
“Our parents and grandparents aren’t getting any younger,” he said. “A lot could happen in a year, and we don’t want the next time we get together to be a funeral.”
So next year we will journey to Atlanta and shut it down too. Yours truly is on the planning committee as the self-appointed activities director (I was the self-appointed consultant this year. I need to work on getting a real title).
A town might stay down, but now when the Lawsons are around.
Don’t you just love a family affair?

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Just the two of us

I have a mini me for the summer.
OK not quite a mini me, because she is definitely her own person.
My little cousin is staying with me in the lovely city of Hartwell.
The idea came about when me and her mom, my older cousin, talked about the need to remediate my brother’s behavior. His parents didn’t deem it necessary to send him to me.
But my cousin thought it would be a wonderful idea to send her daughter here.
She would get to experience a new cultural environment and actually go somewhere cool for the summer.
Err, cool might not be the word, but hey hanging with her older cousin should be fun right?
I’m young, hip and in the know.
Actually, there are those who say I am lame. Namely my brother and one of my friends.
I will admit, I am not the picture of perfection when it comes to being trendy and whatnot.
This isn’t Sex and the City here. It’s small town single (a forthcoming novel by yours truly. The title has been copy written by me.)
But what I lack in trendsetting, I make up for in my quirky yet entertaining personality.
Hopefully my cousin sees that.
She started crying right before we left from the family reunion saying she didn’t want to go. Then the yelling started from everyone.
“My daughter doesn’t need to deal with her drama,” my daddy shouted.
“Get your stuff out the car if you’re going to act a fool,” my grandma chimed in.
“You need to experience new things, so get in the car” her mom said.
It was driving me crazy. I know she was headed there too.
So she said she would go.
My family did a lot of teasing to my cousin right before she left, and I think that’s what got to her. They said I would be running a boot camp.
I am not.
Yes, I do make her read, write and practice diction. But that’s because she needs improvement in those areas, especially if she aspires to be a lawyer.
When she’s a supreme court justice, she’ll thank me.
And we’ve been counting calories and exercising. Her mom said she needs to lose weight.
She’s slightly shorter than me, but weighs almost the same amount. We both need to drop some major pounds.
You do not want to start high school overweight, believe me.
I guess what everyone failed to realize is she is only 14. She’s never been away from home in another state.
That can be challenging when you’re young.
No friends, no family except a lame-o cousin and a summer filled with unfun activities (wait they’re not that bad). I think I would have started crying too.
By the time we got down the highway and made it to Hartwell she seemed fine. We sung along to the radio, laughed at my bad driving and talked about how I live in a retirement community.
I have to remember to be her cousin and not her parent.
I’m sure I’ll have my share of day’s wondering, “What did I get myself into?”
She mumbles, doesn’t want to listen to me and keeps telling me to turn the lights off (in my own house nonetheless. Her point is we’re in a recession.)
But I’m sure she’s thinking the same thing.
She probably resents me for my lack of culinary skills, my school like structure and my many idiosyncrasies.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect. The two of us are stuck together this summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chronicles of Life... For whom the bell tolls

Mark your calendars for June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2018.
I am getting married on one or both of those days.
That’s right, the “wedding bug” has bit me.
I went to a friend’s wedding Father’s Day Weekend and was “caught up in the rapture of love,” a la Anita Baker.
It was absolutely beautiful.
The wedding party gracefully came down the aisle, the bride looked like a dream and the ceremony was wonderfully done (and I’m not just saying this because my daddy officiated).
Then we ate, we laughed, we danced at the reception.
And there was cake. Cake, glorious cake. Oh for the love of cake!
I want a wedding!
Bells, wedding ones that is, have been ringing in my head since last Saturday.
I started working out the details of my special day on the ride back to Hartwell Sunday night.
I have a color scheme, ceremony, location and most of the bridal party planned. The only thing missing is one small detail: the groom.
OK, maybe that’s a major part of it. But can’t I just find one in the Penny Saver?
If Juno can find adoptive parents for her unborn baby, I should be able to find a husband.
I’m not asking for much. He just needs to fit my 50 qualifications which include being taller than 5’9, clean and straight teeth, good credit, gainfully employed, intelligence, a relationship not religion with God, you know all the normal stuff.
A few references, background check, drug and mental test wouldn’t hurt.
This is a full time job, after all. I can’t just let any and everybody apply for the position of husband.
All he has to do is show up for the wedding after he gets the job.
This should be fairly simple, right?
I’m just kidding about all the above (err at least most of it).
But someone else might not be.
A lot of people really do catch the “wedding bug” and rush into a faulty relationship and even quicker out a bad marriage. They get caught in the romanticism of marriage and are ready to jump the broom quicker than lighting.
But after the honey moon is when the troubles come.
People don’t realize a relationship takes a lot of work and even more if its a marriage. This isn’t some fly by night operation.
I’m not going to lie. I was caught up in the glitz and glamor of the wedding for a moment.
I almost was ready to start on my five year plan.
“Got to get married while I’m still young,” I thought.
Then I went back to reality.
I didn’t get a boyfriend until 22. I’m definitely not about to rush marriage.
If I’m married by 30, great. If it takes until 40 even better.
Right now my twenties are all about me. There are so many things I want to accomplish before marriage. Why rush it?
I think I’ll get the wedding bug out my system by planning a few parties on those dates.
So ask not for whom the bell tolls. I guarantee it won’t be me for at least another 10 years.
Then again. ...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles… It's TP'ing Time

The first wrap around was hard. My roll broke off, and I didn’t know what I was doing.
But then it became easier, and easier and easier. Finally, I had completed the porch’s railing.
Soon, flashes of white were headed for the sky and landing in tree limbs.
I was alive, I was free, I was finally doing it.
Doing what, you ask?
At long last, I have engaged in the age old tradition of TP’ing.
Yes, in my nearly 24 years of existence, I had never before thrown a beautiful toilet paper roll into the air and watched it land in the trees.
I’ve done my share of decorating dorm and bedroom doors or party locations, but it just doesn’t compare to TP’ing.
TP’ing is a popular tradition in the U.S. And no wonder.
You get a rush from doing it. Sneaking in the night, aided only by the light of the moon as you complete your task is exhilarating.
Alas and alack, it seemed like another rite of passage from my youth would disappear with the sands of times.
I can’t swim. I don’t know how to ride a bike. Skating is a definite no-no.
At least I learned how to hula hoop and can semi-bowl.
Opportunity finally presented its self for me to join the ranks of TP’ers
The crew – Sarah Lee, H.J.L. and San Antonia – whose true identities shall remain nameless to protect the not so innocent, carefully picked our target.
He is someone we’ve all come into contact with several times.
One lives near him. One works with him. And the other has interacted with him on the football field.
Marky Mark was, well, the mark.
Tomorrow is his birthday. And what better way to commemorate such a momentous occasion then with a few decorations here or there? A few TP decorations at that.
So we crept into the night, dressed in mostly black and went to work. Toilet paper would soon be everywhere.
The first rule of TP’ing is to work while the cost is clear.
We thought we were in the clear. Marky Mark’s car had been M.I.A. for several days.
He wouldn’t know who or what hit him.
Rule number two: blend in with your surroundings. The black attire would help camouflage us amid the darkness.
Number tres: Don’t get caught!
Funny I should mention that.
There were several cars that drove past us. We hid for safe measures among the trees.
The first one was a false alarm. Too bad the next one wasn’t.
The jig was up.
Marky Mark’s little red car started pulling up, and we took off running.
Very carefully we calculated our next move. We would wait and resume.
Err actually we just turned ourselves in. After all, he took the rest of the toilet paper rolls.
I think Marky Mark was pleasantly surprised and even touched. Not every sports editor is lucky enough to get his house TP’ed.
He may have caught us this time, but soon, and very soon, the crew shall return.
TP'ing time will strike again!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Chronicles of Life… Never say bye

Sometimes I still can’t believe they’re gone.
It’s been four months since I lost my granny. And Father’s Day this year officially marks 11 years since my granddaddy passed away.
The pain doesn’t sting as deep when they first died, but it still hurts … a lot.
I have my days when I can think about them without getting sad. But there are a lot more times when I cry, especially when thinking about my granny.
I see a lot of people in Hartwell with grandchildren. They usually are beaming with pride over the grands.
My grandparents were the same way. I was their angel.
I didn’t visit my grandparents, I practically lived with them. Their house was my domain.
It was the first place I was going to run away to when my mom told me she was pregnant with my brother (yeah , I didn’t take that news too well ).
Naturally you develop a closeness with your grandparents when you’re around them 24/7.
I guess that’s why losing them was so rough.
I’m definitely glad they’re not suffering anymore. But the selfish side of me wishes I still had them.
My granddaddy had no less that 20 other grandchildren. Most are old enough to be my parents.
He got to live through so much of their life. But that wasn’t the case for me.
He only got to see me finish sixth grade.
And although Granny made it to my high school graduation, she was a shadow of her former self.
Her complete essence was gone by the time I made it through college and to my first job.
Talk about a sharp pain.
I take to heart the words in Mariah Carey’s song “Bye Bye.”
“And you never got the chance to see how good I've done
And you never got to see me back at number one
I wish that you were here to celebrate together
I wish that we could spend the holidays together
I remember when you used to tuck me in at night
With the Teddy Bear you gave to me that I held so tight
I thought you were so strong
That you can make it through whatever.
It's so hard to accept the fact you're gone forever.”
No wonder I bawl for a good minute ever time I hear the song.
The sadness I’ve felt over other little trivial things in my life is nothing compared to that of losing a loved ones.
There are days I would give anything to have my grandparents back.
But each trip to Edgewood cemetery in Jacksonville reminds me that won’t be happening. And I have no desire to deal with ghosts.
Nothing will bring them back, and that’s just something I have to deal with.
But even though they’re gone, this isn’t goodbye forever. I know I’ll see them again someday soon.
Just like the Jackson Five I never can say goodbye. So I won’t say goodbye to my grandparents. I’ll just say “See you later.”