It’s been a little while since I wrote, so I’ll catch you up. I went back to Kansas for a weekend.
There, you’re caught up.
The girl and I took Greyhound for a 13 hour ride from Chicago to Lawrence in order that I may see my family for the first time in over a year and see my baby nephew, Noah, for the first time ever…
…and my other Nephew, Jacob, for only the second time, and the first time since he left the hospital (having been born a preemie).
Good news, he enjoys Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake, so clearly he will live a long, happy life.
The two of them together:
In 18 years, these guys may love or hate each other, or they may barely know each other. I’m just speaking to the reality of life. I know plenty of people that are pracitically best friends with their cousins, yet I barely know 90% of my cousins, and even the ones that I had some form of relationship with were still enough removed from me in age that I never felt like I had any true connection with them.
Of course, Noah and Jacob are less than six months apart in age, so there is a good chance they will, at least, associate with each other, possibly even becoming actual, heavens-to-betsy friends.
The return trip to home is the breather by which you can judge your progress and reaffirm your path. If you live 15 minutes from your home town and return every other weekend, it might not be quite such a revelation, but if you’ve put good distance between yourself and where you grew up, revisiting the past can be illuminating. It’s the whole ’10 Year High School Reunion’ effect (not that I would know; I’m still 2 years out from my own reunion – which I can’t imagine attending). You can use the return trip to compare your progress to your friends (or enemies), see if your old crush is still as hot or simply, and perhaps most rewarding of all, remind yourself of all the reasons you left in the first place.
But I’ve done those things.
I took some time to hang out with a few of my old college friends this time and it was fun. But there’s no comparison, no competing. Some of my old friends are married. Some of them have successful jobs. No doubt, of those who aren’t married, a good percentage of them will be (or engaged) by the next time I see them, and a few of them will have embarked on the journey into screwing up the next generation. Congrats to them, that is their life and I hope they are enjoying every moment of them.
I have two brothers with kids now and what that makes me think (besides, I am not ready to have a kid) is how weird it is to think we are the next generation to our parents. My parents have their own stories, their own lives mixed with good and bad decisions, detours and negotations, friends they’ve lost contact with, old crushes they sometimes think about and past homes they can never return to (possibly literally, certainly figuratively).
And me and my siblings and my cousins are the generation that came after them, ruining all of their dreams and ambitions.
I’m kidding. Or I’m not. Eh, screw ’em.
What I’m actually trying to express is the realization I had, as I watched my baby cousins play and stare at me with bewilderment, that this moment in time, for me, is permanent and important, something that will remain more or less firmly in my memory (give or take a shot of vodka). For Noah and Jacob my visit will be completely forgotten and might not even warrant a nostalgic story (unless of course I die in an extraordinarily unexpected Ramen noodle fire accident and my siblings tell their kids about me as the uncle who liked to drink straight whiskey… God, I hope that’s what I’m known for once I’m gone).
Someday, my siblings and I will be tragically unhip old people talking about the shit we used to do and the next generation will nod and smile, humoring us and our senile recounting of the days when we were the ones changing the diapers (for instance… I ain’t changing anyone’s goddamn diaper).
Of course, there is still hope for me. I have no kids and I’m the youngest in the family. I’ve got a good 15 or so more years of being the Cool Uncle. Somebody has to buy Noah and Jacob their first beer. And none of that shitty domestic crap, either.
And then, one day, I’ll be 42. That’s when the cool dies.
(By the way, check out my good friend’s new poetry website, Dark Lady Poetry. It’s purely coincidental that I’m one of her featured poets in her first issue.)