We are still on the road; I guess we figured that since we’ve been living the life of vagabondi anyway, we may as well make it mobile for a while. There are lots of people we haven’t seen in a long time. Besides, since summer had not yet arrived in Cleveland when we left twelve days ago, we’ve had to go looking for sun and warmth. Strange how I don’t remember those weather quirks from my childhood there.
As I mentioned, our first stop was to hang out with cousin Celia. She lives in the woods along the South Carolina-North Carolina border, just outside two cute towns with a casual artsy feel to them. We spent time perusing cookbooks (well…Celia and I did, while Bryan and Rhonda perused financial websites and the latest issue of Garden and Gun magazine…don’t ask!) We cooked and ate and talked food and watch Big Night.
Then we all packed it up and took the culinary show on the road to Celia’s dad’s in Atlanta. George is my father’s first cousin. While the family certainly talked fondly about the southern Italian relations who lived in the South, I don’t remember meeting them, though I am sure I did at some point in my childhood. They were like the New York branch of the family that I grew up hearing about but didn’t really know, yet my grandfather would say, “You know Angela…she’s your cousin in New York,” and such-like things that indicated that familial connections, however tenuous, were still strands in the tapestry.
That makes George my second cousin, and he had some great stories about my grandparents that I had never heard before. I am pleased that I will have something to razz my grandpa about when I get back to Ohio, as he is a curmudgeonly kind of guy who loves nothing more than barking harmlessly and poking at people to get a rise out of them. Shoe’s on the other foot finally!
I met Celia’s brother for the first time, along with Leandra, another cousin a couple times removed, who I loved immediately. Her mother Rose came to visit us in Italy and we had a wonderful time. I heard Rose in Leandra’s voice. There we were, a group of cousins, who crowded the kitchen, cranked out cavatelli, simmered up sauce, and ate and interacted boisterously. You know, like any other Italian family.
We headed back to northern South Carolina to spend a few days with Bryan’s parents. It’s nice having family in southern climes! They live at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains near a couple of pretty lakes, so we enjoyed a relaxed time picnicking on a shoreline, driving to a rustic mountain town, and sitting on their blessedly screened-in porch. I could see the mosquitoes lining up outside the finely-woven barrier, trying desperately to get to me while I remained uneaten, saying ‘ha-ha suckers!’ Mosquitoes love me and will travel great distances to swarm me.
Bryan’s mom, mindful that we didn’t have a true Thanksgiving in three years, cooked up a turkey dinner with all the fixings. (Yes, it tasted unbelievably good!) His parents were also very concerned for Bryan’s well-known caffe cravings, and purchased espresso for the moka pot he brought along, and had pre-screened the local coffee joints for him, too.
And that brings us to Washington for a couple days where we are reconnecting with some friends and – you knew this was coming – more family. We are meeting my aunt and cousins for dinner tonight. As I type this I am realizing that all our family activities always seem to revolve around food. (Is your family like that, too?)
We’ll be heading back to Ohio tomorrow. We need to be there for…ta dum…a family reunion! I know, it seems like there can’t be anyone else to reunite with, but there you have it. Two minutes after we arrived in America my grandfather informed us of the date of this reunion, stating how just once before he dies he would like someone, any one of his grandchildren, to go with him to the annual gathering of his branch of the family, and seeing as he is 96 he really thought it should be this year. Well, can’t very well ignore that kind of guilt, can we? Besides, I’m sure there will be good food involved.