Admiring fall colors that are in full bloom, the yellows, reds, oranges and browns, in contrast to a beautiful crisp, blue sky, I asked "is it really October 20 God, and why do sometimes days go so slow and other times, fly by?" I smile; no hesitation or worry or longing for an answer. I simply, peacefully, smile.
The smile comes as I pull up to campus and right away notice the different license plates on cars parked on the street and driving around. Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio... You get the picture. It's family weekend and I made plans to celebrate it with my cuz, the college junior!
Maria Angelica, don't panic! ;)
The last thing I want to is embarrass her, since she will be reading this, so I will mainly share about the chosen title of this entry: license plates and basketball...
License plates on cars fill the lot at the basketball arena. The big football game started later that afternoon, but we were there to see the basketball teams for practice drills and games! We are a basketball school, no matter what other people say, and basketball games are full of energy, community, family and warmth. It literally, emotionally and for some, spiritually, gets us through the winter. There are families from all over. I attempt to imagine what their stories are. How long have mom and dad been together? Is that real mom or step dad? How many siblings stayed home because they had other commitments? Are they alumni? Did that family drive the six hours from St. Louis and stopped in Terre Haute, IN for a stretch, some gas and of course, a Starbucks? I smile. I hope they enjoy their time together, their kid's experience and their collective experiences as a family.
God, thanks, really. Some times we may not say thank you enough, but you granted both of us, cousin and I, with the gift of an incredible family. The word "incredible'' is very loaded, as it represents with bold awe and admiration the complexity of what family is. Throughout the day we told stories, we laughed and witnessing how many grandparents were visiting grand kids, couldn't help but tell Abuela stories. I remembered, how several years ago, co-workers and I were at a student's graduation party and we all did jello shots with the grad's grandmother!! Hysterical! Tootie (Maria Angelica) and I looked at each other and said "Abuela would have done that! And she would have LIKED it!" "iAy, que rico, si es gelatina, dulcesita, dame otro!" LOL
I zone in on family, of course, because it's Family Weekend and what could be more important that family? Not many things, but I am sure it depends who you ask. Those of us who are blessed to be born into one are raised and taught how to do this, how to do that. We are taught, for the most part, how to be. At some point in our lives we realize we are who we are, individuals, with our own independent thoughts and needs and wants, even if it took us into our 30s to speak up and stand for ourselves. However, we are still part of a collective nucleus, our family. I can speak for one that will finally go home for Christmas after two years? The whys don't matter anymore. The point is I am going and it's about damn time.
Again, God, today is about thank you. Thank you for letting us take the best of our families and sharing it with the world. Thank you for the challenges of our families, for like many others, we are not perfect, but we learn and get better with time, through our loyalty, respect and unconditional love for each other.
So, why license plates and basketball? Simple. They have been instruments to make memories. Now in my mind and in my heart I can say my cousin and I celebrated Family Weekend as a family! We cheered, laughed, counted at least ten Illinois plates in the Milano's parking lot. There must have been a special, I thought! Basketball, same thing. We remembered games two years ago and were saddened by the once I missed last year. We (Ok, I) pretended to know more about the technique of the game than I really do, but we did it together, and we laughed! I guess if there's a point I am to make, is to remind myself to make memories... as many as I possibly can. They will be with me forever!