There was so much good to be had amidst the bits and pieces of drama that were tossed in the mix.
The children for one were a joy to be around. Watching all my little cousins play together was a sight for sore eyes. Unlike the generations that came before, all the children mingled together regardless of age. Not a single child uttered the words, "I don't wanna play with them, they're too little," or "No way, she's a girl/he's a boy!" From age two to nineteen, the kids played, joked, pranked and helped one another. It makes you think that there really is hope for the future.
My hope for the adults in Utah is completely gone.
Between my flight from the Albuquerque airport to my layover in Las Vegas, I had nine different people from all walks of life approach me to comment on my hair. I'm used to it. It happens all the time. People like to approach me, ask me about my hair and then we usually have a nice conversation. I learned about a woman headed to Los Angeles who was on her way to a wedding. I met a man in Las Vegas who had a daughter with pink hair and he missed her very much. I had a conversation with a young mother of three little boys who was excitedly meeting up with her husband who was going to pick the small family up in Seattle after a vacation from seeing her family in Texas.
|Utah, love the pink. I dare you!|
The moment I set foot in the Salt Lake Airport, all kindness ended. The entire week I was there, not one single person approached me. Many looked the other way, some even gave me dirty looks. Like pink hair meant I was a bad person. Some members of my family reacted similarly, while others gave thoughtful comments and the rest just couldn't seem to care. The greatest moment in regards to my hair came when a five year old little girl approached me at a mall food court and asked me if I was a fairy. I didn't answer her, but smiled and looked at the tiara she wore on her head, asking if she was a princess. She nodded her head with a bright smile and I told her that I'd always wanted to meet a real princess.
Upon arriving home in Albuquerque, four people came up to say hello and ask me about my hair while I was waiting for Matt to pick me up.
Tolerance does not appear to be Utah's strong suit.
The reunion itself was difficult for me. On my Mom's side of the family, I am without parents, siblings or children. My younger sister remained in New Mexico, and even though I look to my aunts (Motherly included) as surrogate mothers, the fact remains that they have their own "real" children, and despite whatever feelings are there, I am still alone.
Reunions also place me in the awkward position of introductions to distant relatives. "This is Jessi, you know, Lisa's daughter. The one that died in the car wreck 26 years ago." Which is usually followed by the oh-so-typical reactions of, "Oh you poor thing," "Your Mom was so sweet," "I remember when that happened," and then I'm given great details of how they came to see me in the hospital and I was a poor little two year old wearing a body cast, recently orphaned (for lack of a better term).
So in between the awkward moments I enjoyed what I could. Which included talking with distant cousins about our shared faith. Sharing genealogy with my great aunt. And taking pictures of everyone.
There were other great moments I really enjoyed. Like when my cousins and I decided to all try peppermint extract (and proceeded to burn our mouths and make the entire house smell like mint, just by breathing). Or all the kids playing on the trampoline and the brief moment where I caught Motherly trying it out for herself.
Karaoke. Roasting Star Bursts. BBQs. Morning muffins, waffles and crepes. Watching my nieces and younger cousins make pizza (a recipe which I've already made a ton of times since coming home). There was even some dancing.
The greatest moment of the entire trip had to be meeting up with my Dad and my little brothers. I've always loved my family so much, but I've never fit in quite right. I've always felt slightly on the outside of things. My cousin Mitzi said it perfectly, "We sure screwed you up by having everyone raise you. You've got mother-aunts and cousin- siblings."
Except when it came to my Dad and my brothers. My real Dad. Real siblings.
And I love them all.
|A whole lot of trouble.|
But it was good to come home.