Tag Archives: Aunt

Big, Little

The hedge encircling our house was a world onto itself, a network of tunnels and hidden places we scurried and hid in like rabbits. It was a refuge, a hideout, our shared headquarters. It went on and on, right around the house and into forever.

That was years ago. Years and years, the kind you can put into groups of five or ten and count on off. Our house, a squat three bedroom bungalow, was at the bottom of a hill, right at the dead end street behind which the train tracks that ran. Not exactly prime real estate, but then I never minded the trains (freight, never passenger), and missed them after we moved away.

Next door was our neighbour the hunter, and his pack of three walker/beagle hounds. Across the street was the family whose kids we feuded with on and off and whose grandmother had a pug. We also feuded (again, on and off) with the next door neighbour’s kids, three girls (but not one for each dog, as I’d assumed. The dogs were their father’s dogs and his alone).

Later, the next door neighbour acquired a chihuahua, which had puppies after he “accidentally” let it out loose in the neighbourhood with my aunt’s chihuahua. There were three or four of them, I could never keep track.

He named one of the tiny dogs Rambo. He never offered my aunt any of the puppies. As mad as she was about it, she still let her dog roam the neighbourhood untethered after the fact so it’s hard to feel indignant on her behalf.

***

I check in from time to time, on the old house, the old neighbourhood, despite myself.

The hedge has been removed, pulled out from the ground, roots and all, and replaced by a sagging wire fence (maybe it wasn’t always sagging…I have just only ever seen it sagging). The space the fence occupies, once enormous, seems so small now as to have been frankly impossible. Perhaps it shrank? Or maybe it just atrophied in memory.

The bungalow – somehow even squattier now and dingy in spots (the once white brick, the once gleaming windows) where I remember it had been pristine – has been split into two (of all things, lengthwise), and has been remade into a rental property with faded patio furniture in the driveway (at last glance, three off-white plastic chairs and an overturned table).

Other things, too, have changed.

The houses up the street have been bought up by the city and are in various stages of being torn down so that the street can be widened and a new, modernized transit system can be put into place – in this case, a light rail transit system and not, as I’d initially assumed, a monorail. Pity.

Some years ago, our next door neighbour died (in his basement), as did the man across the street (in his sleep), although that one is more recent. A coma and then a recovery and then that singular twist of fate that took him out of the picture.

The dogs, naturally, are all dead too. Rambo included.

My aunt gave away her dog soon after she had children. Be it shame or indifference or something more or light banal or benign, she never mentions him. It is as if he never existed, as if none of it ever happened.

Like none of us were ever there at all.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Childhood, Death, Dogs, People, THE PAST

Favourite

I have an aunt who would ask me all the time, “Am I your favourite?”

I have a lot of aunts. She wanted, it seems, to stand out distinguished among them.

(Though there are a lot of aunts, they are not interchangeable, but the issue seems to be hers exclusively.)

As time passed, the questioned changed:

“Who’s your favourite?”

And changed again:

“I’m your favourite, right?”

Until, finally:

“Tell them who your favourite is.”

“No,” “Why,” “I don’t know” did not deter her from asking her question, and neither did “Yes.”

“Yes,” as you can see, was what led to further questions until the inevitable “tell them.”

(NOTE: “I don’t have a favourite,” was met with disbelief and scorn, and also the equally predictable demands for a “real” answer. Demands for “the truth.”)

The truth is this: I no longer speak to that aunt. Not anymore than I have to, anyway. Which is to say not a lot. Which is to say not much.

Funny now, looking back on things. Funny the lengths we go through, the trouble and expense, to define something for others on behalf of ourselves.

Among other things, “favourite” means “chosen”, “preferred”, and “cherished.”

No longer speaking to my aunt is my choice, it is my preference and something I have come to cherish.

My favourite.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Family, Relationships, THE PAST, Words

Social Mediations

 
My aunt recently joined social media and it is slowly becoming the defining feature of what remains our somewhat shaky, tenuous-but-working-on-it relationship. Really.

It’s complicated.

My aunt has always been more of a senior sister to me: still young enough to be relatable, but just older enough as to throw scandalous suspicion on our outings together. You know.

A “cool mom” type.

Lorelei Gilmore.

Ideal.

But.

We drifted apart as I grew older, and she grew still older. The reasons were mostly philosophical in nature but damn real nevertheless.  I fought for them, back in the day.  I really did.

Given the chance, I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Though way less swears probably would have helped.

It’s a shame.

Anyway…

slowly, slowly, we began to reconnect, memory and emotion dulled and blunted by the passing of time, time, time.

And now she wants to be my “Friend”.

It's free but don't worry: you'll pay anyway.

When “always” also means “why not?”

When we see each other, that’s almost all she ever asks me now: “Why don’t you ‘Friend’ me? Why don’t you ‘Friend’ me?” A simple request that’s simple enough.

And yet I hesitate, my natural inclination being to question motive. To cross-examine expectations. To scrutinize hearts evidently on sleeves.  You’d be surprised.

Still…

Social media is exciting to the newly initiated for as long as it stays that way. When you start, you want the instant gratification that comes with having/pursuing/generating LOTS of it, and the more the merrier etc., etc., etc. That could be about all she’s after. I, then, would be incidental and that kind of works for me.

On the other hand…

Perhaps her request is really just a ploy to gain access to information she can pick and choose from, information that admittedly, yes, OK. I put out there in the first place but I can’t possibly be expected to remember absolutely everything that I say that I do and think when I post can I? Point is. She’ll know some Things, which means I’ll have to assume she knows All the Things, and it won’t really matter that I won’t  or can’t ever really know what she really knows. You know?

Then again…

It may be that she really wants to get to know me and is using what’s available because that’s just where we’re at right now, and given our history, well, that’s progress?  Even though the me she will get to know will be the me that I want to be known or at least hope to be known or at the very least want to be seen as because there’s not much else involved than that right there when it comes right down to it.

So, is that good enough?  And is it a starting point or a finishing line?  A means or an end?

It could be better than nothing.
 

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Filed under Family, People