Monday, April 12, 2010


We all have head colds. Not the unpleasant ones, but the nostalgic Spring ones that make me think of obligatory road trips, crumpled tissues, Sprite by the glass bottle, sleepovers even though you feel kinda crummy (then wake up feeling awful in the middle of the night). Colds that force you to slow down the tiniest bit but don't really disrupt anything. Last night Xander's cold woke him up from his hard-slumber (we had friends over - a playdate) and he simultaneously complained of leg cramps - he gets growing pains like fire after days of hard playing. As I rubbed the back of his knees I was visited by a memory of a warm night when I was 11, I was at an aunt uncles house, wearing a v neck t shirt of my uncles (it was one of those last minute sleepovers), and my cousins were already asleep in their beds. These were some of my boy cousins; wild, totally untamed, descendant of red heads, urban, brutal. I would brattily whine to my sister (when she refused to join me on these overnights) that they didn't have any books, they always wanted to throw each other down the stairs. Their house was big, beautiful, old. Lots of secret nooks and crannies; a window to the basement from the outside that resembled a drive through window - we played Root Bear Stand for an hour or so each visit. One thing my feral cousins enjoyed was talking dangerous adventure walks round their neighborhood, which was a little rough around the edges, but everyone knew them, so they knew me, plus our grandparents lived next door - all would be fine.
But that night I had a cold. And it was hot (no air conditioning), so I scampered from my nest in the television room (the fourth bedroom converted - my oldest boy cousin slept in the steamy attic bedroom) and holed myself up in the one bathroom on the second floor. It was cool in there - the clawfoot tub was pretty and the toilet paper was pink and perfumed. My aunt sold mail-order interior design chach-kis so everything was matchy-matchy, fragrant, girly. She had no girls, just those three wild boy children. My uncle wanted a girl too, I think, and so my presence was refreshing for them. I blew my nose on a few sheets of that powdery pink rose-scented toilet paper, washed my hands with my Aunt's shell-shaped soap and walked back to the television room.
That's the memory that visited last night, that blink when I was eleven. My aunt and uncle got divorced when my cousins were grown, the youngest cousin died of a heroin overdose at 23 (22?), and the uncle died last year. He and I were fairly close and I miss him.

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