(I originally shared this post about a year ago on my old blog.)
North Carolina is one of those states that have it all. We’ve got beaches and mountains, metropolitan areas and rinky-dink little places with colorfully unique names like Bear Creek and Tick Bite.
Why just last week, we had an ice storm so severe that people were leaving their cars along the interstate – trying to get home. It was like a scene out of movie… Yet today, I am looking a sunny blue skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. I love winter days that feel like spring.
And it is that springy feeling that made me think of family reunions…
As I said, North Carolina has some unique town names – Back Swamp being one of them. Back Swamp Community Building, the site for the family reunion, is literally out in the middle of the sticks. In fact, I’m not sure that sunlight isn’t piped in for the residents. Accompanying me to the reunion was my less that happy sixteen year old son. I’m sure you can picture his face – the surly looks, the heavy breathing…
We pulled into the parking lot and I was immediately surprised at the number of people attending the reunion. We normally didn’t have such a large crowd. We got our of the car, food in hand and made our way inside the building where we were greeted by the friendliest people. They made room on the table for the food we had brought. There was the standard reunion questions – Who’s your parents? Your grandparents? And then the statement that should have set bells off in my head…”Hmmm, I don’t know them but then I’m an in-law.”
I made my way, followed by my unhappy son, to the dining hall. I looked around trying to locate some familiar faces. Where was everyone? I knew my parents and my sister should have already arrived. I suddenly felt not so warm and toasty. I looked at my son, it wasn’t good. Going outside, I called my sister:
“Where are you?” I asked.
“Here,” my sister responds.
“Where is here? Because I don’t see you.”
My sister answers, “At the reunion. Did you just get here?”
“I’ve been here,” I replied. “How about Mom and Dad? Because I don’t see them either.”
My sister doesn’t bother answering. Instead, she asks, “Where are you exactly?”
At this point, I’m frustrated. “Where do you think I am? I’m outside of the community
My sister starts laughing.
“I’m not in the mood for this,” I growled.
My sister can hardly get the words out. “You’re at the wrong place. I don’t know whose reunion you’re at but it’s not ours.”
“What do you mean I’m at the wrong place?” I asked as I remembered the food I had just carried inside. The food that’s in my Corning Ware dishes…
It became apparent that I should have gone to my aunt’s house – which is a few miles away. I turned to my son and shared the devastating news. We had to go back inside and get the food! Believe me when I say that I considered forgoing the reunion. Why even bother? I mean, I could get in my car and drive to Wal-Mart where there was an abundance of Corning Ware. But those dishes have a lot of sentimental value to me. I’ve cooked in them the entirety of my married life. They’ve seen me through cooking disasters as well as culinary masterpieces. I couldn’t leave them!
At this point, my son is almost on his knees, begging me to make a run for it. But this is one of those moments – those humiliating moments where we turn to our children and with all the love we can muster, tell them to suck it up!
So, I take a deep breath as I walk back into the community building. My son followed like a lamb being led to the slaughter. We headed over to the nearest group of ladies and I confessed my sin. Trust me – they found the humor in the situation. They were laughing, hanging out of the freaking door laughing – as we made a quick exit. Family reunion 2013 is one they’ll not likely soon forget.
We hurried to the car because honestly, Back Swamp is a small place and everyone knows everyone and if we could just make a clean break then no one else would be the wiser. Except Back Swamp is a small place, and one of those nice ladies at the community building – yep, she knew my aunt. My car wasn’t out of the parking lot before she did the neighborly thing and made the call – you know, to let my aunt know we were on our way.
I’m looking forward to incorporating the above event in a story one day. I think with a little tweaking, it would be a great opening scene. As writers, we spend so much time in the land of make-believe, we need to remember that life and all its quirkiness is happening around us.
So what do you think? Do you incorporate your life into your writing?