Since Jasmine is busy at home, getting ready to have a baby and all, I suppose it is up to me to keep ye olde blog going. Me, the silent, frequently absent "kins" half of The Brokins. ; ) This has been an interesting week and it is going to culminate in even more interesting-ness. This weekend is the annual Burns Family Reunion, the Burns being my grandma's family of origin. They are a wild bunch of Arkansan hill people, born and raised in the Ozarks, the stories I have heard about this side of the family are just incredible. Crazy, and incredible. For instance, I have some great aunts and uncles, my grandmas brother and his family, who used to live in a cave. Not one of those chic eco-cave houses, but like, a real cave. In a cliff on the side of a lake. About twenty minutes north of where I live now. And yes, they have since moved out of the cave, but it was in the rather recent past. There are stories about gypsies and moonshine, all the makings of an awesome Southern novel. Stuff like that.
The Burns have these reunions every year, and for a while when I was younger we would go to them regularly. I have lots of very vague memories of these gatherings. Hot and humid memories of bouncing on a giant rubber inner tube while a sprinkler sprays from the inside of it, walking downtown to buy snowcones, my first experience catching lightning bugs. I have memories of taking long trips with Grandma Audrey and Grandpa Al in their yellow van, Uncle Terry singing Elvis all the way from Arizona to Kansas, always being terrified that when we were at Aunt Dorothy's house in Kansas we were going to be blown away by a tornado, Uncle Pascal giving me Juicy Fruit gum while the family sat on Aunt Irma's back porch.
We didn't attend a reunion for a long time, and then when I was 16 went again. It was a particularly memorable reunion that year, one filled with the usual craziness, but also smoked hamburger patties, dead cows, junk yards and chicken bones. I won't get into the details, to protect the innocent you know, but it was an interesting experience for my haughty 16 year old self, being all wise and wordly and New Mexican.
In the last four years, years I have spent living in the very area my grandma grew up in, I havecome to recognize that while half of me is, and always will be, decidely New Mexican, my aversion to any kind of green chile that comes in a can being evidence enough, but my other half is solidly southern, from the Arkansas hills, raised in the Ozarks. The roots of this side of my family are deep in me and coming back to these reunions as an adult, since they are frequently held at my Aunt Irma's house, which is just 5 minutes away from my own, awakens these southern things in me. Within five minutes of walking into the midst of the Burns I have taken off my shoes and cracked open a Diet Sam's Cola, hunting for the closest Little Debbie snack. Tonight we went to Aunt Irma's for dinner and I happily downed a balogna sandwich on white bread, chasing it with the Diet soda. At this rate I'll be smoking and chugging down Keystone Light, my dentures hanging out somewhere by the kitchen sink by tomorrow evening.
Tonight was particularly sweet for me. My eldest sister, Amie, came to town this evening. She has never been to a Burns family reunion before because we have only known her for about 8 years. She is 34. Amie was adopted out of our family when she was just hours old and I never knew anything about her until I was 16. And now she is here, in town with me, a picture of what I will look like in 10 years. She talks like me and says things that I say. I watched her sitting with Grandma tonight, excited to look through old pictures and telling Grams about how she loves to buy crazy things at antique stores, our kids were running around screaming in the dark, playing ninjas and tackling one another. It was so lovely, things have come so full circle.
Tomorrow I hope to eat some Swiss Cake Rolls, look at pictures of my granny when she was young, and hopefully find that old rubber inner tube, forever sealing in Norah the goodness and lunacy of the Burns Family Reunions.