I always enjoyed family gatherings in my Grandma and Grandpa Country’s back lawn. Looking back at things, I also enjoyed the same sort of thing at Grandma and Grandpa City’s house as well. I guess I just enjoyed excuses to eat with friends and family. The country and city experiences were markedly different but equally enjoyable. And this is not me trying to be some sort of mediator or balancer. It just was.

When it comes to siblings, it’s just me and my younger sister. But I always felt part of a bigger family because we would get together with cousins (and aunts and uncles) very often. Living across the street from Gram and Gramps, coupled with weekly gatherings on Sunday, made for this type of closeness. While at school I was often called “weird” or “strange” or “odd”, amongst a wide assortment of other vulgar names that can be attributed to my homosexuality, my cousins rarely vocalized anything about my eccentricities. My sister and my cousins are the only ones my age I felt comfortable around, as they would just go along with my latest scheme of staging a parade or turning one of the barns into a school or buying bags of candy at a general store and having a “candy picnic”, where we chowed down a bunch of sugar and went into subsequent sugar comas. I was nearly equally (is that proper grammar?) as close to my city cousins, but because we didn’t see them as often and there was a little more of an age spread, I’d tone down my grand plans and just hang out in my weird way. It was still a pleasant experience.

As we got older, it was apparent that our life experiences would take us in different directions. Because of this my comfort level around my cousins waned quite a bit but never fully dissipated. I purposely mask my “eccentricities” because I guess at this stage of my life I’m suppose to act like an adult, but honestly this takes a lot of mental effort. Using mental energy in this way is exhausting, in fact, very exhausting. I’m literally tired of doing it.

It’s been a long process for me to make peace with my off-kilter or askew way of thinking and use less effort in trying to fit in. Instead I now just focus on not scaring the heck out of people or at the very least making people wonder if my UFO is parallel parked on the roof.

I still look back on the memories of these family gatherings with a smile and fond thoughts. I also wonder who selected the colors in that afghan on the ground and why weren’t we using a solid color blanket instead of an afghan that was meant for the back of the couch. Or as it was called by my city family, the Davenport.