Every year my K-8th grade school hosted a reenactment of the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. Although I fully grasped the macabre of celebrating an event that displaced innumerable Native Americans long ago, I have never been able to persuade myself away from the gratitude I feel for the land on which my brother and I grew up. We don’t know the specifics of the exchange that occurred between my great-great-grandfather and the sooner he discovered living in a hut down by Beaver Creek. All we know is that great-great-grandad filed for the claim for the land in the end.
This visit home has been both delightfully relaxing and action! packed! Saturday morning was enjoyed by providing a speedy and humane disposal to a pungent little snake dad encountered in our basement. The tail-end of the encounter can be witnessed here. After the adrenaline cleared, we visited our favorite market in the small but well-established Vietnamese community near my high school to stock up on supplies for a family crawfish boil. Oh, Super Cao Nguyen, how you enchant me every time with your perfect basil soda, inexplicably creepy doll decorations, and Thunder fans of advanced age.
Then, something magical happened. I was able to convince my super-duper dad, stepmom Dana, and first cousin Loo (Ivan‘s mom) to give contra dancing a try! When Caroline was visiting in Sonoma, I dragged her out to a dance in Petaluma. Louise, our caller that evening, was a fellow Okie and the one who told me about the Flamingo Fling – a huge contra dance festival being held in OKC. It was being held at the very same time I knew I would be visiting. Fate, friends, fate. Having taken that as a sign, I was able to wear my fam down by Sunday, the final day of the three-day festival.* The dance location was a shocking 3.5 miles from home in a private little barn. The scene looked more than ominous when we first arrived, but the jubilant tye-die-adorned adults blowing enormous and exquisite bubbles left us with no uncertainty that we had found the place. The band, Great Bear Trio, absolutely stole the show. Every contra band oughta try an electric guitar or two. I am so proud of my clan for giving it a try and half-promising to go dancing again after I leave. Hopefully they’ll watch and re-watch this video of the day’s hilarity and be compelled to rip n’ snort once more.
In good family fashion, we gathered later that night and ate a criminal amount of seafood. If you didn’t leave with gout, you did something wrong. Joanie supplied the broccoli salad, Teresa kept us refreshed with watermelon, and dad boiled up a mountain of crawfish, potatoes, and corn. All hail Old Bay. I got to catch up with my cousins, brother, and some of my oldest friends from high school. It was another one for the books. I could not love this raucous bunch more.
I’m always touched by how close my friends are with my family. There is little to no distinction at this point – Grampa is known to all as “Grampa.” Sara, Chandler, and I have been up to no good since Zoey 101 was still on the air. When we met, Sara was head over heels for Devon Werkheiser as Nickelodeon’s Ned Bigby and now she’s preparing to get married in her nana’s wedding gown next year (not to Devon Werkheiser). Chandler debates the merits of Pop Tarts with her lovely South African hubby, Fabio, while it seems like only yesterday that she called me in tears about Heath Ledger’s untimely demise. It’s good friends like these who have the grace not to pressure you about such big life decisions of your own because they know you’re saving yourself for Jake Gyllenhaal.
I still have so much to download about this trip, hence the “part I” above. Spoiler alert: We’ve been playing a lot of Catan. And I mean a lot. Upcoming: pizza, board games, camping with baby brother, and loads of old family photos. For now, I am soaking up every single iota of family time that I possibly can.
*It wasn’t until later that we learned of the deadly attack in Orlando that took 49 lives from the LGBT community and distraught world as a whole. To this moment, I still cannot process the juxtaposition of the security and joy we experienced at the dance and the violation of that same environment that the victims experienced. If you are feeling as powerless as I did (and do), please explore the petitions to reinstate the Federal ban on assault weapons found here and take solace in the safe places in your life.