I have three cousins. Yes, just three.
Well, I have plenty of second-cousins-once-removed and such, but my father is an only child, and my mother had only one brother and one sister. Three of my grandmother’s siblings had no children, and the other two had only two each, but my grandfather and my grandparents on the other side all had plenty of brothers and sisters who all had plenty of children, but they were scattered to all corners of the world and I knew few of them (two, in fact, out of several dozen). But I’m very close with my three cousins.
I babysat them when I was younger (their father was more like a brother to me; he was very young when I was born), and as they’ve grown, two of them have lived with me for a time. I cherish the time we spend together. This week, one of my cousins is staying with me (he’s also brought my newest cousin, his new puppy, who is an endless amount of amusement). With him, he brings memories, and memories sometimes bring with them something else.
It’s strange how we can feel so rooted to a place. To an object, to a setting. I spoke to my mother last night, in my grandparents’ house, then found a workshop that had been part of the house, but not in the way it was last night. I saw things that took me immediately back there; the books I read over the many, many summers and springs and falls and winters; the old Underwood typewriter that I used to write stories on; the one Grandpa gave me when I turned 13…the cleaning products my Nama used to use. My mother sat in the carpeted kitchen and asked if I was going to vacuum; I looked for the carpet freshener Nama used to use, and couldn’t find it, but the scent of that cupboard, like a Babylon candle, rocketed me back to a time before they’d moved to a new state of vibration.
The only rooms I saw this visit were the kitchen, the hall, the back bedroom, and the workshop. The squeak of the cupboard door; the way the door on the left stuck all the time; the huge south- and west- facing windows in the kitchen letting pure, perfect light stream in all day…I can’t go back there. The house wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t smell the same. More to the point, they wouldn’t be there.
But there is a part of me; a rather large part of me, to be honest, that wishes to have that house. To live there again. Would I feel closer to them? Would I hear them at night, the way they would laugh together in the kitchen, Grandpa’s deep baritone voice getting louder as the night wore on? Would I see them, from the corner of my eye, out in the yard by the garage? And what about the smell of roses and frying potatoes? Would the song of crickets beneath the window when no breath of wind shivered curtains still lull me to sleep?
So I woke this morning with a profound sense of sadness and loss and of the unstoppable progression of time. And it occurred to me that this is probably one of the biggest reasons I love summer; because for the whole summer, that was my house too.
To my mother, who would be 63 in five days, and to my nama, who would be 86 in just over a month, I am missing you.