My Gram was my favorite relative growing up. She was a character, and she was always so much fun. She was the person who taught me some … fun skills. We would go to restaurants and have our conversation while simultaneously listening in on conversations happening around us.
We made up all sorts of games that kept us constantly giggling to ourselves. Our favorite was making up stories about the people around us. We would see a young man sitting by himself and create a whole history for him. He was there waiting for his date – a blind date. His aunt was setting him up, and he didn’t really want to be there, but he couldn’t say no to her, and really, it was just one night, what harm could it do? He was thinking about how much he missed his sister since she’d gotten married the previous fall and wondering if he’d ever have a life like she’d built for herself.
Or there was the family in the corner. The mom is watching her toddler eat macaroni and cheese all by himself for the first time. She so wants to pick up the fork and do it for him, since half of it’s ending up on the floor right now, but she’s holding back so that he can learn to do it on his own. Hey, at least we’re in a restaurant, she laughs to her husband. It isn’t our mess to clean up. The husband looks around uneasily, as he’s not used to family dinners yet. He’s usually at work, where no one spills their food on the floor or screams when a cup goes rolling across the table. He’s certain that everyone is staring at him, and he is secretly crossing his fingers hoping they don’t get thrown out of the restaurant.
The stories go on and on, and our fun didn’t stop there. We’d see the photographs of people that come in frames when you buy them and create identities for them, as well. It was because of her that for a long time I had a frame in my apartment that retained that fake photo. Her name was Julia, and this photo was the first one taken after she’d graduated college. She was on vacation with her friends in Mexico for one last blast before she started her job as an accountant. The job meant she’d have to move to New York, a place she’d never been – not even for the interviews. She wasn’t quite sure how she was going to survive, but she still had a few weeks before that was her reality, and in the meantime, she was going to live it up in Cabo.
I wish that I still had her here to create those fun alternate realities with me. No matter what, though, I’ll always have the memories of what the laughter and creativity we shared and the memories we created. Tell me I’m not the only one who’s ever done this.
This post was inspired by the book The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. It is not a book review, as that isn’t what we do with From Left to Write.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova as part of the From Left to Write book club where we write posts inspired by a book, as opposed to a true book review. There is no compensation involved, and all opinions expressed are my own.