My aunt’s wedding invitation brought news of marriage and news of her divorce. We didn’t go to the wedding, we didn’t know about the baby, and we didn’t hear about her moving to Phoenix until three months after she left. Saturday morning I awoke to a bustling household. Apparently the start of school had a greater affect on me than I expected because I slept for thirteen hours. My parents told me that we would be leaving shortly and I stared with slight alarm at them thinking I heard incorrectly. After all these years, I would get to see my aunt again.
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When we arrived in Phoenix, it was a scandalously hot August day which, combined with a three hour drive, made me considerably irritable yet nobody noticed as we walked into the beautiful house to find other visitors that stood as we crossed the threshold, gazing with earnest curiosity. Some people find that they are best able to socialize over meals, my family was raised on a derivation of that: food and people is a recipe for expression. When relatives and food mix there is non-stop chatter, like opening a shaken soda, they erupt in conversation. So it was no surprise that after the house-and-grounds tour, we settled down for a late lunch. Years of built up tension seemed to melt away as the peppered steak and rice ensnared our senses, of course the beer had a hand in loosening people up. Much of the afternoon progressed in this manner, with customary swigs of Bud Light everyone would begin, or continue, telling stories.
Sometime later I heard the downstairs door open following the loud jangling of keys, I was lost in a game for a couple of hours while most of my family had visited Tio Gabriel’s house. Thinking I could use a break and water, I grabbed Cameron and was immersed in wafting smells of delicious baked goods upon our descent to the first floor. An appetizer feast of potato salad, garlic bread, veggie trays, deviled eggs, and assorted cookies waited downstairs. After we finished eating we decided to swim, an adventure that turned out to be wild. Since I forgot a swimsuit, I jumped in fully clothed. My mom, wine glass and all, fell into the pool. It was this hilarity that sparked our badminton competition; suddenly we had just enough players for two teams. As night slowly fell badminton became pool volleyball. We kept switching sides and the ball was soaring over the net into the gravel infested yard, so Tio Gabriel, tired of putting on shoes decided to jump in with sneakers thus making the retrievals more efficient.
In the midst of this, people were leaping out of the pool to tend to the barbecue where shrimps and scallops were sizzling away with mushrooms and olive oil. Eventually smells lured everyone out of the pool, including my 17-month-old cousin in bright green “floaties”, and into the chilly night air to dry. As the number of swimmers dwindled, I decided to leave and take a warm shower, shivering as the cool surroundings absorbed my body heat on the way to the house from the pool.
We took turns oven-roasting popcorn with truffle-marinated olive oil and the adults took drinks of Bud Light. So in that way the night passed until the grandfather clock in the dining room struck the bell twelve distinct times, signaling our cue for dilapidated slumber, strewn across spare mattresses and couches always to remember the gloriousness of reunion and the united feeling that family grants one another.
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