Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And In Some Cases, Money

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I usually dismiss that valuation, mostly because I've been copied on too many "amazing photos from this year" chain e-mails that people who don't have interesting lives are compelled include me on when they forward it to the people they naively assume won't think less of them for it and hit delete.

But, rather than attempt to summarize -- or, more accurately, confess -- the delight of (re)uniting with long-lost family members to discover that you actually like these strangers who've got your blood, I think I'll let a choice photograph do the talking.

And here we are. I'm not only in this photo, I'm also the photographer. How I fit seven happy people into the same frame without ruining the shot or tearing my MCL, I'm still unsure.

It's difficult to believe, looking at it, that most of us just met for the first time the day this was taken.

But there you have it: family.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Prodigal Fun Returns

It’s nearly impossible to catch up in chronicling the last month or two and do it all justice without producing a legitimate novel. The simple highlights are rather sensational, to be sure. The most deceptive statistic is, perhaps, the least impressive one. Dating back to the second week of March, I have yet to spend consecutive weekends in the same city.

I had spent Easter weekend in New Jersey, whereupon my mother announced to the full extent of my then-known family – my sister, myself, and my aunt (my father’s sister) and uncle (her husband) – that she had received word from her estranged family members, and would be reuniting with them in some capacity.

The following weekend, unable to spring another trip back down to New Jersey on such short notice, I remained in Boston while my mother and sister drove out to see one of my uncles, his wife and two of his kids, as well as my grandfather. My mother had not seen her brother or father in forty years. My sister had never met them before. As for me, I would not remain a mystery for long.

A week later I was on the train back to New Jersey, to get together with a different uncle and his wife and two kids. I suddenly have cousins; I am suddenly not the baby of my family. I am suddenly on the hook for a lot more trips to New Jersey.

Rather spent from the travel and rather hectic transitional periods at work in between, I took off for Miami as May began, to lie about, drink and dine, and slough off a layer of winter skin in the flattering angles of the nearly tropical MIA sun. I spent five days lounging around man-made Brickell Key at the Mandarin Oriental, rediscovering my Spanish tongue and lazily exchanging text messages with fresh kin.

The following weekend was Mother’s Day, which meant it would be spent in Boston with my mother. We took in a record-setting Red Sox victory, lunched on lobster rolls and pink champagne at the Top of the Hub – so that’s where the claws on their lobster entrees go! – and trifled with the caloric juggernauts that are the cookies offered by Paradise Bakery.

Having spent so much time downtown, I hardly saw my apartment – in which laundry has been accumulating at an alarming rate – and would see none of it this past weekend, on which my grandfather, uncles, aunts, and cousins insisted on a get-together to meet me. I know of no others who, at twenty-three years of age, meet their grandfather for the first time.

And so I’ve spent about thirty-five hours on trains, six hours on planes, and countless hours in cars over the last two months or so. My family has multiplied fourfold in size. I’ve dined on everything from foie gras to French fries, drunken vintage champagne and Bud Light.

My bank account is as sore is a prison bitch, my skin has just recently finished peeling, and if I don’t do laundry tonight, I will literally have nothing to wear for work tomorrow, much less the rest of the week.

Oh, and I’m considering a name change to adopt my mother’s maiden name – and the name of all my newfound relatives – as my last name. It’s better than carrying around my father’s, I think, and it gives me the opportunity to also switch my middle name to “Danger,” which I am one hundred percent serious about doing.