I ducked into the humble kitchen, looking for mom but falling instead to a sea of white hair and wrinkled faces. Pale eyes and cracked smiles all swiveled to my direction. I had come in swinging, wearing tight jeans and a dark purple top that complimented my brand new body. I was 13 that summer, a steady 5’5, angular, thin and freckled. Clearly my youth had interrupted a gossip group exclusive to AARP members. The heftiest of the gaggle was Arla, my grandma’s sister. This was her house, where she lived with her hunched over husband and yippy white dog. Summer reunions had been held here as long as I could remember, but I had never gotten fully acquainted with the entire third generation. She motioned at me with her coffee cup, double chin a-wagging. “And you are?” I shifted nervously, feeling my long chestnut waves slide off my shoulders. It caught me off guard. I hadn’t seen any of them for a long long time, but I was surprised none of them recognized me. “I’m uh, Emily. Aleda’s granddaughter.” The women joined in a collective gasp, like a line of falling dominoes. “Sweetheart!” “Darling!” “look at you!” Arla’s jack-o-latern face lit up, “Oh my! I thought one of the boys had brought you along!” I felt more mature than I should have on that afternoon in the musty farmhouse, with the sun falling through mossy trees, worrying how I’d get out of eating meat, and eyeing the peanut butter bars.
August 12, 2010