I got notice this week of my thirty-year high school reunion. Oh my! Am I really that old? Have I been out of high school that long? I don't know what I want to be when I grow up yet! I won't attend, because it's a continent away, but it was fun to pause and think about the people I used to know and grew up with. Because of the way community worked in Utah, a lot of the kids I went to school with I also went to church with, and my 5th Grade teacher was also my Sunday School teacher (I used to play with his daughter in their sandbox). I've gone to the temple with my old French teacher. I babysat for my music teacher. A lot of us were together from kindergarten through university. And now here we are, graying and slightly pudgy and flashing grandkid photos. Imagine!
I recently reconnected with a long-lost cousin on Facebook, and it opened up a world of other befriended cousins, most of whom I haven't seen in nearly thirty years. It felt like Christmas, scrolling through the list of names with accompanying photos and remembering my absolutely enchanting childhood, filled with family. Rollerskating. Sleeping over. Singing around the piano. Playing Beckon and Nertz. Picnics and plays and Aunt Linda's pies. I remember my grandpa demonstrating tap dancing he'd learned in college. My uncle in his pin-striped suit, taking all the kids in the station wagon to cruise main street after my other grandpa's funeral. Learning to use the automated milking machine. Chasing rabbits turned loose in the yard. Hunting for Easter eggs and chocolate in a two-acre orchard. Trampolines and clinging in terror and joy to the back of the tractor as it reared to turn around.
I'm happy with the life I've chosen, and I love where I live. But it saddens me that my kids won't know what it feels like to be surrounded by a jillion cousins. There was always something going on, and instant friends only a car drive away. The memory of those days warms me, makes me want to scurry back to my childhood and the embrace of family. Hey, you jillions of cousins! I love you! Come and visit me! I'll pitch a tent in the backyard and make sloppy joes. I even have a few of Grandpa's mints left, squirrelled away in my dresser drawer.