Monday, July 20, 2015

Family...and Hair

My sister and I drove up to New York over the weekend for a family gathering. There are seven cousins and we are spread out all over the east coast (one cousin lives in Europe), so it is rare for us all to be in one place.

We are a family of redheads. In my dad's generation, all three siblings had red hair; in mine, five of seven. (Among our children, only two of twelve are redheads. Are we dying out? Thank God, science says no.)

It is a family of big personalities, big drinking, and big hair. At least one cousin at any given time has long hair, and when it is long, if it goes unchecked, it is definitely big. Bushy doesn't even begin to cover it. And do other families talk about hair a lot? Somehow we always seem to...maybe because there's just so much of it!

(My sister and I, who have been blowing out our curly hair for years now, tried to explain how much easier it is to maintain a straight hairstyle. I spend about 45 minutes, two or three times a week, washing/drying/flat ironing my hair. On days I don't wash it, I comb it. This requires 30 seconds at most. And I never have to to leave the house with wet hair...which happened every day when I wore it curly. My cousins seemed unconvinced.)

Aside from being—for once—in a majority redhead population, there is something so comforting, and comfortable, about seeing my cousins. I look at them and see my sister and myself in their features, as well as bits and pieces of our parents and grandparents. We compare memories and keep up traditions, the favorite a sea shanty sung holding heads in a circle (this is generally done only after a few drinks). We have sung this song as toddlers perched on phone books at the dining room table and as embarrassed teens. As adults we sing and remember those no longer with us, holding on to a tradition that we are passing on to our own children.

It may (I hope it won't) be another 10 years before we all see each other again. Until then I'll be remembering.

I'm a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong
Way, hey, blow the man down
If you give me some grog, I'll sing you a song
Give me some time to blow the man down

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