I made cinnamon rolls early yesterday morning, my final act as stepmom this summer visit. Andy and Kevin were soon on the road to New York with their dad and our dog Cooper, and afterwards I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed their room and folded blankets and washed sheets. Another trip done, my heart a little empty, but not too much. I’ll see them Labor Day weekend when they fly to Minnesota for the first ever Haraldson Brothers family reunion at Breezy Point Resort. All my siblings and everyone from my dad’s brother’s side of the family will be there, about 40 people in all. Procreating is something we Haraldsons do well.
I’m in full planning mode. I’ve selected the suitcases I’ll use, plugged everyone’s phone numbers into my cell, started a list a mile long of things to bring with me. My daughter (the one who’s not pregnant) and I are driving out because to fly and rent a car is ridiculously expensive. Besides, they won’t let me take food on board. You know, fish, soup, low-fat cheese, spinach. I pack like there are no grocery stores west of the Ohio border. I’m the most anal retentive eater you’ll ever meet.
Our trip starts Saturday at 8 a.m. First stop: Chicago. We’re staying with the daughter of one of Larry’s Purdue friends. Yes, my Purdue Friends Summer Odyssey continues. Sunday we’ll take off for Luverne in southwest Minnesota to visit my late husband’s mother, Carlene’s grandmother. This leg of the trip will also include my side trip to Jasper, my hometown, the place of so many memories it makes me a bit frightened to go there.
I’ll stay with my cousin and visit several friends and my mother’s sister Mavis. The friend I’ll have dinner with that night, Lisa, was my maid of honor when I married my farmer husband, Bruce. She married Bruce’s best friend, Curt, a few months after Bruce died. They now have five children. Their life best reflects what “could have been” for Bruce and me if he hadn’t died.
It’s been years since I’ve seen them, but it will take us no time to be reacquainted. Time has no relevance to us. Lisa and I have so many mutual experiences that unite us on the same plane that there’s no way she’d ever be a “What ever happened to…” kind of friend. We’ll probably rot in the same nursing home together.
After Jasper, it’s on to Minneapolis. I will see more friends I haven’t seen in years; friends who know almost as much about me as Lisa. I’ll stay with my parents, where my siblings will converge. The five of us haven’t been together in 6 years, not since our dad’s surprise 70th birthday party. It’s not easy getting everyone together when three of us live in three of the four corners of the U.S
On Thursday we’ll gather at my little brother’s house to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday. As a group, we’re….how do I explain this….not unlike most families, I suppose, but more like “The Big Chill” without the sex.
The day after the party, we’ll head up north to the resort and be joined by the other Haraldsons. I can hear my accent changing already. I’ll come back to Pennsylvania talking like the Lutheran lutefisk loving Norwegian I once was, you betcha.
It’s true, you can’t escape your past. I’m drawn to Minnesota like a moth to a flame and a woman to her lover, all at the same time. I live in Pennsylvania, far away from where I grew up. I make cinnamon rolls for children and a husband who know the me who lives here. Yet I am Minnesota and all the good and the bad times that came before. This trip will remind me of that me. I’m a little scared, a little apprehensive, but mostly excited. I’ll blog along the way. That’s the universal me that has to do that. I’ve been keeping a diary since I was 10. And living in Jasper……