first thing you should know, is the lovins are incapable of getting a decent family photo. this was the best of the TWENTY that i had on my camera from the weekend. it's okay.
my grandpa is an old cowboy. he sang cowboy tunes in a cowboy band on a cowboy radio station when he was young, chaps and all. he's your classic western snap button shirt and cowboy hat on the dashboard. he had eleven kids, and all those kids had a lot of kids, so we're this motley crew of gila monsters, basically. there are about 95 of us these days and just over 50 made it home to arizona for the weekend. i grew up in mesa with a hundred million cousins, all living within a mile or two of each other. we mostly shared each others' parents. the elementary school talent show every year was a solid hour of lovin cousins, one after another after another. it was a pretty ridiculous way to grow up. i don't think i fully realized until this weekend how lucky i was to have had that kind of love + support as a kid, and how much i've been missing it since without even realizing it.
i have the neatest uncles. there are eleventy billion of them. a few of them live in utah. they were kind of my surrogate dads when i lived there in college. a few of them are my husband's age, and have become this wonderful sort of friend/older brother mix. somehow my grandpa raised all his boys to be the softest, most loving men. they're all gushy with their kids, none of them seem to feel the need to prove their masculinity in the stupid ways so many of the guys i know seem to, they're all wonderful fathers. even to their brothers' kids. ;) i know in a pinch i could call any single one of them and they would bend the earth and sky to be there for me. it's sort of amazing, the caliber of male influences i have in my life.
the minute we landed we went for mexican food. and then, since we were in the neighborhood, we drove past our old house my parents designed + built when i was a kid. i remember when the work on the house was just starting and the construction workers laid the concrete backwards, and the look on my mom's face. it was pretty classic.
seeing my baby there was weird.
i've spent a lot of time thinking about pockets. not like in your clothes, like pockets you create in places. pockets of yourself. i wrote about it once here, and then wrote about it some more for this book nonsense (though it might get cut--apparently i only needed 35,000 words. i submitted 70,000. sooooo, editing), but being in arizona this time, i started wondering. instead of putting yourself in a pocket in a place, do you think you could put a place in your pocket? and carry it with you? does this sound crazy? i want to figure a way where i can start to bring these places with me, instead of leaving myself behind.
after we landed but before the mexican food, i had this conversation with brandon about time travel. it felt so weird being back in arizona. it had been 10, maybe 15 years since i'd been there last, and these memories i'd forgotten i had kept coming and coming, every so often i'd see something or smell something, and it really felt like miniature time travel. the airport, even. i remember walking through that airport on my way to the plane that took our family to korea for a year when i was six, i remember walking through that airport on my way to the plane that took our family to connecticut when i was twelve. i didn't have any memories of coming to arizona, just of leaving it. and then walking out into the 93-degree heat, i remember that too. every time i climbed out of a car or walked out of an air conditioned house that weekend, i had that same tactile flashback. being around all of my uncles, and my cousins, driving past the little caesar's where my mom and i used to get pizza for dinner, the bottom of the box burning my bare legs as we drove it home, turning at the corner of taylor junior high where we swam all summer long to get to my grandpa's house, finding the brick by the front door with my old scribbles still on it that say "tiffany, you're funny," it all made me catch my breath. it was like these ghosts were everywhere. it sometimes felt a little like coming face to face with me.
i'm fascinated with the idea of who we become and what we leave behind when we come to a new place for a time and then go. and of what happens when we go back. i'm always surprised when i find myself in these places still. it gave me this strange desire to fluff my bangs up six inches high and wear matching shorts and t-shirt sets. you know? it gave me a lot of sudden realizations too, about myself, and my family, as well as other, completely silly, trivial things. and it made me wonder, if i just thought about it hard enough, could i just take all of that with me? instead of the other way around?
yesterday i took my baby to 69th street, a place which feels more like home than our current place does, even though we only lived there for a year. i'm sure once we leave this place, here will start to feel homey to me, too.
and is this a side effect of moving too much? or of thinking too much? ;)
after mexican food, while poking around our old house, we did a little raiding of our (their) orange tree.
then we stayed up late chatting in my grandpa's back yard.
then aaaall the cousins came over and huck took his first ride on grandpa's lawn mower? i guess this is the new rite of passage for the lovin grandkids (the blades were off, still freaked me out).
this bad photo is the only shot i have of the three lovin generations together. next time i have to remember to do this type of thing on purpose!
and then huck made friends with this snail. arizona really belongs to the bugs, you know. we humans are just passing through. brandon managed to convince one of my uncles to take him scorpion hunting. they found just one, but it only took them about 30 seconds. snails aren't bugs. but yikes, arizona!
and then there was the swap meet of my dreams. turquoise, navajo silver, cowboy hat. check, check, double check. i'm going to look pretty ridiculous wearing that hat around the city this summer. i'm kind of excited.
(photos from our day in sedona next. thrilling!)