At our first ever family reunion I will be the only person from my generation not to have a child or several under my name, in the family tree. I’m sure that will be doubly emphasised. Maybe my name will be up in neon: Pia Savage fails at the only important thing in life. Why did we invite her?
When I was 23 I was already considered to be a failure because I was separated with no children. My grandmother told me in no uncertain terms that I had failed at my biggest responsibility. And how could I have not kept such a nice young boy–even if he did have long hair? Maybe I didn’t tell my grandmother everything or anything. My grandmother felt double the pain as my cousin who is a year younger than I am was also separated–from a boy who became a Hari Krishna. My cousin did go on to have three children so she will never be a failure in the family’s eyes.
The reunion is taking place in Manhattan. As I live in Manhattan I don’t see the need to get a hotel room. Think that was a mistake and I was supposed to say ‘oh, of course I’ll pay at least $200 a night to sleep 30 blocks from my apartment.”
The reunion takes place dab in the middle of August. I’m going away in August but since this comes first, I have to make my arrangements around it. The reunion’s being planned around one cousin’s (who I haven’t seen since we were about eleven) schedule. Why? I don’t know, but apparently she’s important to the family.
Never mind that my first cousins might not be able to make it or my sister. Never mind that I have no separate identity in this family. We are periphery, the garnishes around the room rather than the flowers on the tables. As such we have no say in anything. I distinctly remember offering to help when the subject was first approached last winter. That way I would be able to talk them into making it in September or sometime not in the summer. Unless we were going to a resort. Since much of that part of the family comes from the Catskills–the Borscht Belt as it was called, it would be fun to have it up there. I think.
If I’m going to a family reunion I want it to be someplace where I do feel comfortable paying for a hotel room. So does my sister. We will use almost any excuse to stay in a hotel; we love hotels; we love nice motels. We love anyplace where we don’t have to make the bed. If the reunion was being held downtown in one of the new hotels in Tribeca or around Battery Park City I would take a hotel room in a hot sec, but the East 50’s around Park or Lexington?
As I lived on the East Side for sixteen years I have no desire to stay there. Is that being selfish?
Of course I’m bringing excess baggage to this reunion no matter where it’s held, and whether or not I do take a hotel room. The second to last time I saw much of my extended family was in 1989 when I was 38 and was constantly being mistaken for some sort of generic star. Lucia was always saying that when I walked into a restaurant/bar the room would go silent while people tried to figure out who I was. Frankly I never noticed.
The last time that I saw much of the family was at the nadir of my looks. Some of my family actually acted dismayed to see me. That was a heart warming experience. Well I don’t look as great as I did in the ’80’s but don’t look bad. Actually kind of the opposite. But I will never have that fresh faced early 30’s look that served me well, and well into my 40’s.
Then I have heard rumors about my sister and I. How we forced our mom to sell my sister the house and buy me my apartment. That the rumors aren’t true don’t matter. We bought our abodes ourselves with our own money. Did anybody ever ask my mom?
Did anybody ever visit my mom? See how well she lived? God, I feel like my sister and I have been judged guilty of mother abuse when the exact opposite was true. But as my mom had been a family star–and now she was older, blind and frail, not too many people–from either her family or my dad’s wanted to visit her, any excuse would do. Guess they didn’t want to see how we forced her to live in a very pricey apartment complex or forced her to have help or….As nobody could force my mom to do anything she didn’t want to do that last part’s not true. It took us years to convince her to move out of a four level house that she lived in alone. Is that a horrible thing?
Being single was I supposed to tell my mom the day my dad died that I would move in with her? Actually I did. It was the only time that day my mom laughed. She told me that we wouldn’t last a week and she wouldn’t want me to live with her.
Don’t drive and have no desire to as I would probably kill a convention of nuns, priests, rabbis and ministers my first day solo. Had a very demanding job that would have taken me two-three hours to get to and come home from by public transportation.
My parents and I had become good friends when I was in my 30’s and I resent my extended family for not understanding that parents and an adult single child could have a good relationship based on mutual love, like, humor and all the other things that make people friends.
My parents, sister and I occasionally traveled together. I have read that this is a 9/11 phenomenon–but as my dad had died in ’91 and my mom a month after 9/11, I think that not true. Know many parents and adult children who traveled together at times. But it suits peoples purposes to make this a kinder, gentler world since 9/11. Have noticed how people love to discover new things–and by god an adult family traveling together will be a new thing.
Why can’t I come from a family where people just want everybody to be relaxed and to be happy? Why can’t I come from a family that considers gossiping about anybody who lives outside a narrow boundary–that the family defines–to be the ultimate sport?
I promised myself that I was only going to write funny and light stories for the summer. But family reunions seem to bring out the worst in me.
For anybody keeping track–this is a whining post. Hey, I’m a New Yorker–we whine sometimes. Live with it. Because I really don’t care what you think. Have much bigger things to think about. Like how I’m not going to spend a weekend in August, letting virtual strangers tell me how my parents had expected me to conquer the world–and what a disappointment I must have been–no spouse, no children).
Because to my parents I did conquer the world.