I felt like I was being followed by crazy news from the night we started packing for the reunion. First off, Lucy had a fever that flirted with 102 degrees and when she gets sick, she actually sits and does nothing – if you know her, you know how scary that seems. She’ll even watch television, which she usually finds utterly boring.
Then, around 1am, our little house on the beach was jolted with this 4.6 earthquake, the first one I’ve ever felt. Obviously, it was more like a 3 by the time it got to Venice, but I have to say, it still rattled everything in the house and felt like we were being shoved by a bully. I can’t even begin to imagine a 6 or 7, let alone the Big One due either eight minutes or eighty years from now.
I got in the car the next day and heard a story on NPR about Lucerne, CA, where they have run out of water, and the Feds busted five “water” trucks carrying unpotable sludge to families with children. I looked at the freeway sign, and noticed I was in Lucerne, CA.
Another story came on about the smoggiest city in America: Arvin, CA. It has the worst air in America, and as I looked at the map, I saw the dot near my car: Arvin, CA.
We pulled into Park City, Utah to get gas, just in time to make sure Lindsay Lohan cleaned her toilet at Cirque Lodge, waded through the thousands of Mormon kids eating fast food just as Mitt Romney said one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard about his own kids, then found our way to the family reunion, located just over an hour from where those poor miners are still trapped.
Still, as with most family reunions worthy of a trek, time stands still, slips backward, and the events of the day completely disappear in the ancient retelling of old stories and faces you’ve known since you began to process information.
there are quite a few of us who aren’t even in this picture
my particular family was missing key players, but we had an awesome time anyway
I can’t say Lucy was at her best: recovering from her fever, she couldn’t nap, was happy in the throng of cousins to the point of overstimulation, and by the last day, had basically fallen apart from total exhaustion. Still, I can’t tell you how important these gatherings are, especially to those who seem too small to remember them. It means that family will be “twas ever thus” to them; it shall be encoded into their DNA to be excited about cousins, aunts and uncles. I know I’m a complete agnostic, but it’s the part of Mormonism I love: the tacit understanding that you will be entwined with your second cousins and adore it:
Lucy with Sydney, the daughter of my cousin Doug
I was social chairman this reunion, which meant a good round of basketball, the talent show (which, my fellow Jartacularians, I stole from my family reunions in the first place), and the Quiz Show, complete with the buzzers many of you have abused during your sojourns at the farm upstate. It also meant I had to design the T-shirts.
As we all know, family reunion T-shirts rank just above denim shorts from the Flying J in terms of wearability. You might as well put on the 2002 Linksys Wireless Router Conference shirt from the Embassy Suites in Cleveland, or one of those black XXXXXL T-shirts at the Chevron station that have a chartreuse cheetah standing on a puffy mountain. I was determined not to end up with such a product.
Thanks to the awesome AdSpice folks in Durham, I designed my own:
I wanted it to look like the Carolina Crew Team shirts, and it even has our family name (“WORSLEY”) written on the back, with big football numbers. “Pontypridd Sailing Club,” the Latin, the rook, and other bits are all family lore which maybe my mom can explain if she wants to comment, but I think the shirt went over well. You know, once everything was explained. We even used the 50/50 cotton that has that slight Fetzer Gym feel.
above: in 2005; below: in 2007
I have to say I love my extended family. I mean, sure, we don’t agree on any theological issues whatsoever, and I may find their politics indigestible, but none of them live in a swing state, and they make me inexplicably happy. I hope Lucy gets it.
Because my wife and daughter had to head back for school and deadlines, I drove myself home, this time via Las Vegas. Expedia had a deal on the “New York, New York” casino for $79, so I grabbed it. Hell, you can make that much playing video poker (and I made triple playing blackjack at the $25 table). Still, it was odd calling my brother in New York from “New York” – it almost felt like betrayal.
No offense, but it takes a special kind of tourist to fly from Nebraska to Las Vegas and stay at “New York, New York.” A slightly fatter one, prone to visors, the cheese amped up about 15%. It was not the Venetian, nor Bellagio. As I sat outside looking at all the neon and huge video screens, it suddenly dawned on me: it wasn’t that Las Vegas had pulled off looking like “New York,” it was that New York itself has begun to look exactly like Vegas.
The drive home was despairing, not just from my arse being unable to take that amount of sitting anymore, but because it was approaching 115 degrees in the open desert, the kind of searing heat even your AC can’t quite quell. Even more horrible were the desert towns brimming with xeroxed McMansions, springing up in the most uninhabitable places, literally, on Earth.
Mesquite, NV, for instance, should be a poster city for the unbridled hubris of mankind. Sprinkler systems were gushing water onto the red mud everywhere, at 5pm in 108-degree heat. Even a Republican would drive by and think “what the fuck?” In these places, anything more verdant than a black cactus should be regarded with suspicion, but here, there are golf courses along the freeway:
These are fairways being kept green all summer despite the fact they can’t even be played from June to October because of the extreme conditions. I just don’t get it. By merely existing in one of these towns, you’re giving God the finger and telling Mother Nature to show her tits. I mean, I know living in LA doesn’t exactly make me Johnny Sustainable, but at least we don’t have an air conditioner.
Anyway, back home, La Luce slept fourteen hours and emerged from her slumber the same little punkinboots we’d known the week before. Oh, little Buglet, we missed you!