If you find yourself in a place where ‘yonder’ is an accurate measurement, ‘Old Man …’ is a proper title, and erecting an awning over your trailer makes it a house, then you know you’ve ended up in Robert Lee, Texas.
From growing up in New York, to working as an Art Director in DC, I don’t usually find myself having to carefully avoid rattlesnakes and scorpians. But that’s what I went through to see family. And, …
4 hours on a plane.
4 hours trying to get to the right gate.
4 hours on the Robert Lee highway.
144 hours scratching bug bites.
8 hours in a car with relatives
2 hours eating briscut
80 hours of sweat
2 hours selling raffle tickets
20 minutes turning off the AC again
I am greatly comforted by the fact that I had such a hard time coming up with even that list. I apparently had a good time in Texas. My family was in good spirits this year. While there was much manure spread, there were no major arguments.
In past years I really wondered about some of them. Some of them pissed me off. None of them could be accused of being sickly sweet. But each year I see them more and more as people who all want to do the right thing. They go to work every day, and try to raise their own happy families. Once a year they want to come together and restore what time almost tore apart.
In past years I think they were motivated by their own mortality. The older ones are much older. The younger ones never got to know a complete family.
Now they seem to be scared of what comes after them. As I’ve said for years, the next generation of Calder’s does not have the bond the older siblings share. There is no common history. No common trauma. The ones that do continue to show up are ussually the ones who had exposure to other parts of the family outside the context of the reunions.
But as much as I love going to Texas each year, I couldn’t give you the name of more than a handful of my cousins. I could name no more than 4 or 5 who would come to a reunion by ourselves. And it’s a much more diverse group than our parents. We come from many places. We range from small children to people in their 30s.
I have spent the last few years soaking up everything I could about my family; a family that didn’t exist to me before 2000. But I only hope that I don’t have to wait for the mortality of the next generation to catch up with it before it comes together.