On the trip from the airport to my sister’s house, I looked down at the dashboard and noticed that the odometer had just turned over to 10,000. Why was I chosen to witness this milestone for this anonymous little rental car? Poor Daewoo, no one who cares was there to appreciate this birthday. I grabbed my camera and recorded the sad moment for posterity.

Endless subdivisions of winding roads. Houses, painted the color of dust, look like they’ve grown out of the ground. Palm trees, cacti, orange trees, and lemon trees.

I played babysitter at various times throughout the week. Whenever Natasha was gone, Masha would cry for her mama until falling asleep. I’d sit down next to her and try to comfort her, “She’ll be back soon.” Once when I got up before she was asleep, she ran after me and leaned up against my legs crying. I picked her up, my heart in my throat, and sat down with her in my lap until she fell asleep.

It was a madhouse when my sister Rachel arrived with her kids. There were eight kids running around and wrestling. Chris had a spontaneous nosebleed earlier in the evening; and somehow he became the target of most of the tackles. Seeing three kids holding down a kid with spots of blood on his face and shirt was a little disturbing.

At the wedding reception my Uncle John showed everyone a baseball card with a picture of his grandson on it. “His team was in the Little League World Series. The only team they lost to was the crooked one, with the fourteen year-old pitcher.”

When I was little, Uncle John showed me how to crush a soda can into a perfect little hockey puck. We compared our current crushing techniques, my can turned out more compact, but he’s able to crush his in one fluid motion.

In the car on the way back from the reception, my brother Chris played with my camera, snapping a few pictures out the window. When I got home and looked at all the pictures, I noticed that the three photos he’d taken were pretty much the only good ones from the trip.

I’d gone to Arizona with a little bit of a cough, it cleared up pretty much right away. On the day of the wedding I developed a slightly harsher cough, it got worse after I tried to pack too much into my first evening back home. I had an unlikely theory that it was caused by a reaction to orange juice. But now I’m running a fever and sleeping through most of the day, I guess I caught the bug that was being passed among my nephews and nieces. Ugh.

Categorized as Before