We know this crazy group of people from Kentucky that we get together with every year.Â We aren’trelated by blood, but we consider them to be family.Â We usually take turns with where we go.Â One year we go down to Kentucky, and the following year they come up to the mitten.Â All together there are 18 people.Â And you can imagine with 18 people with ages ranging from 18 months to, well, let’s just say they are grandparents, a lot of shenanigans can go on.Â (Last year we all chipped in a couple bucks for a dare for Max to shave his head). But before I get into the details of the weekend extravaganza, let me share some background information so it all makes sense.
My brother, Pat, met his friend Andy in kindergarten.Â As they became friends, so did their parents.Â (My parents, Bonnie and Bill and Andy’s parents, Natalie and Bill.)Â And as Pat and Andy got older, I started hanging around them by default.Â I was the goony younger brother.Â Whether they wanted to hang out with me or not, most of the time they didn’t have a choice.Â They were good to me for the most part.Â Don’t get me wrong, they were capable of torturing me (and when I’m feeling like I need some sympathy I’ll share those stories here), but we all did have fun together.Â Andy became another big brother to me.Â We’d play Dukes of Hazzard, Star Wars, and Knight Rider together.Â Of course I never got any of the cool parts, but they let me play.
Andy has an older sister, Stacy.Â (She actually wrote the first “Open Mic” spot for my site.)Â When I was a kid, she was just a myth.Â I don’t think I actually saw her.Â She was a name and a photo I saw in their living room.Â I heard stories about her and saw the braces and the high bangs in her photos.Â That’s how I knew what she looked like, but I don’t recall actually seeing her.Â When I was at Andy’s house we’d walk past her room and I could see and smell girly things in there.Â She had to exist.
Andy had just started high school whenÂ his family moved to Kentucky.Â And that’s when we started going down to visit.Â I remember our families always getting along and I remember always being excited to go visit.Â But I was more of a spectator, not a participator.Â The parents would buddy up, Pat and Andy would buddy up, and Stacy, well, assuming she existed, I don’t recall seeing her at all.Â So I spent a lot of time playing video games by myself on those trips (woe is me).Â Pat and Andy were in high school, I was only in 5th grade.Â In addition to the age difference, I was awkward.Â Not only shy and quiet, but awkward.Â If Natalie or Bill tried to talk to me, I didn’t know how to comfortably talk to them.Â I’d like to think I’m a little better at it now.
I remember liking Natalie’s voice though.Â Pat and Andy would be in the basement listening to Bon Jovi, my Dad and Bill would be in the garage talking about cars or hi-fi stereos, Stacy would be gone, so I’d sit and listen to my mom talk with Natalie.Â Sometimes I’d actually listen, sometimes I’d just zone out to the sound of her voice.Â Plus, I think they talked about more interesting things than cars.Â “He said what to who!?Â MAN ALIVE!”Â Tell me more!
You would think that over the years our families would lose touch.Â People get old, people go to college, people get married.Â Especially with the distance between our families we could have lost touch.Â And for a little while there was a pause.Â We weren’t seeing each other as often.Â There were maybe two or three years between visits now.Â But then there was a series of major birthdays and weddings that kept us getting together once a year again.Â And well, after everyone was married off, we just decided we don’t need an event to get together.Â So we make our own events now.Â Once a year during the summer.
Now that we are all adults, it’s very different than it was when I was a kid.Â For one, I know Stacy is real.Â Not only do I know she is real, I probably have more in common with her now than I do with Andy or my brother. Â Stacy is married to David and they have three children.Â Abby is 14, Max is 11, and Sara is 7.Â Andy has a son Matthew, also 14, and is married to Angela who has a daughter, Whitney who is 17.Â My brother is married to Kristen, and me to Aya, and now we have Ellie.Â So that’s the whole gang.Â All eighteen.
Abby was the flower girl at my wedding, and Matthew was the ring bearer.Â Abby was 7, and Matthew was 6. Â Now they are 14.Â Yikes.Â They are older than I was when we first started going down to Kentucky to visit. I guess it’s that whole circle of life thing, right? Â It’s been great to watch all the kids grow up.Â Most of them are taller than Aya now, and none of them are nearly as awkward as I was.
So this year, it was the Kentucky folk’s turn to visit the Michigan crew.Â We all met up at Pat’s house first.Â Well, when you haven’t seen someone in a year, and there is a big group of you, what should you do first? Â I have a baby that needs a nap.Â Grab your shoes, I know just the thing!Â We’re going mallwalking!
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