Aunts and Uncles came and went all summer long. Uncle Jack and Aunt Joyce, Aunt Millie,
Uncle Jim, Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Delbert. Most names I remembered only as long as
they were in our house. Some stayed one night, passing through, on course to an actual vacation
destination. Some had campers which they parked in our back yard. The campers were a lively group.
There was an uncle who played the accordion while the adults sat around on folding lawn
chairs and drank Schlitz and sang along. Some nights were cool, some hot and sweaty.
Either condition, the mosquitoes swarmed.
For those who stayed in our house, Kathy and I would give up our beds to the grown-ups,
spreading our sleeping bags on the green, deep-pile, shag-carpeted living room floor.
If there were kids visiting, they would carpet camp with us.
One of the visiting Aunt/Uncle-combos had a son, Jimmy.
It was from Jimmy that I learned the truth of the Aunts & Uncles –
that none of them were actually related to us.
He told me there were probably raccoons living in the wooded lot next to my parent’s house
and did I want to go with him to see?
I didn’t yet realize that: 1. raccoons are nocturnal and therefore not to be found during the day;
and 2. if an older boy is trying to get you to go into the woods, raccoons are the last thing on his mind.
When he tried to kiss me, I was horrified and told him as much – “we can’t kiss – we’re cousins!”
He laughed at me – “we’re not cousins, we’re not related at all.”
I forget if he lost the desire to kiss me because I was obviously an idiot, but that little interlude
ended then and there.
I was born in Oswego, NY,
"I had always wanted to be a writer, but was impeded by the belief that to be a writer one had to be extraordinary, and I knew I wasn't. By the time I was ready to give up my academic career I had realized that while books are extraordinary, writers themselves are no more or less special than anyone else." The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield