My cousin is getting married in three days. While she is not the first of my extended family to do so, she is the first girl, the first of our lady comrades to truly say goodbye to childhood and adolescence. Now that I'm old enough to understand this I have found myself in an inescapable state of nostalgia.
Our cousin-hood (made up of seventeen) is a very special one. I will let you in, I will give you a glimpse, but I promise you the magic will be lost here.
I remember distinctly the way we used to dress up in costume. Anything left over from years worth of recitals and summer productions was pulled from musty plastic bins and strewn across the basement floor. Only after we found costumes would we spend hours on the perfect script, which was scribbled in slanted penmanship on white copy paper. By the end of the day we had a full-fledged dance, play, skit, movie, and put on performance after performance for our parents who were endlessly entertained. Here our imaginations developed: an environment in which all of our parents endeavored to raise us. Encouraged by one another we would each eventually embrace this shared creativity in our own ways.
As we got older and more adventurous, family parties (the best chance for us to all be together) turned into vastly imaginative war-zones. It was here where I learned that light-up sneakers were unacceptable in a game of manhunt. My team and I expertly crafted makeshift coverings for my lights out of leaves. If we could we would have painted our faces black. As soon as it was dark enough we slithered through the varied terrain of our grandparents' property and that of their neighbors, quiet as mice, swift as deer, having memorized every tree or dip in the land. The moon was our light source. The moon and the warm lights of the house we all know so well. When at last a team admitted defeat, both troops returned to the party red-cheeked, noses running and covered in dirt.
Summer. Summer. Summer was heaven on earth. Eight weeks felt like a year, and nothing could top that feeling of pure exhaustion after a sun-drenched day of jumping waves and building castles. Fortunate we are to have a boat-owner in the family. Also a golf pro, beach town residents, and our very own island. Summer excursions provided solace from winter's gloom and relaxation for our parents and grandparents. But they were adventure lands for all of us. What better place to experience your childhood than aboard a ship, or on rolling greens, or sandy shores? Wherever it was, the shrill of laughter was sure to be ours.
One summer's perfection was punctuated, however, by the loss of the one matriarch we all knew. And so we convened again -- every single one of us -- to say goodbye to her. Guiltily, I relished the idea of being together again, and for the first time I learned that with death comes the celebration of life. It was okay to play, to laugh, to eat. So we did. All of us. Together.
And now as our lives come full circle, as we grow and build our own families, we will continue to gather. To play and laugh and eat as if we've never spent a day apart. We will recount the memories we've been lucky enough to make with one another, and aim for the same for our own children.
I am very excited for this wedding. I am very excited to see my beautiful, beautiful family.