My mom’s sister Karolynn lived in Minneapolis with her three children. It was a distant suburb, but coming from Alexandria (a small town two hours away) it seemed exotic.
My three cousins were just a bit younger, so I was always excited to pass some knowledge on to them, as my older brother did to me. When I went for a visit in the summer of fifth grade, I took the Greyhound bus by myself. I don’t know what year people turned from interesting to dangerous, but this was still a year of interesting bus riders.
I don’t remember ever being inside. We swam in the pool. And the neighbor’s pool. We ran around the house. Rode our bikes to the park. My aunt gave us Lucky Charms for breakfast and bologna sandwiches for lunch. She dropped us off at Valley Fair before opening hours and picked us up after closing. Again, we were lucky enough to run wild amongst the interesting.
I had just learned how to play Truth or Dare. Did they know how? No. Great. I will teach you. One person has to pick a task, either to tell the truth to an agreed upon question, or to perform the task that the others decided you should do. Like what kind of dare? they asked. Oh, nothing scary, none of us wanted that – you know something crazy or funny. Like what? I had something in mind. You know, you could ask me to do something embarrassing. Like what? Like, oh, I don’t know, you could make me go tell your mom that she’s the best aunt in the world… Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?? The truth is, I had wanted to do it, but I just didn’t have the language yet, or the courage. Oh, yes they said, that would be embarrassing – go do that! That was the dare. I acted a bit reluctant, and then ran into the house. My aunt was doing laundry. The others peaked through the back door and listened. “You have to say it really loudly so we can hear,” they said. I ran down the stairs and hugged my aunt’s waist. “You’re the best aunt in the whole wide world!” And I ran up the stairs to my giggling cousins. I could feel her smiling behind me. I dared to love them all.
It’s not always easy to say how we feel. I think I haven’t told people enough. I want to do better. People should know. My aunt should know. My cousins should know — summer days in New Brighton were wonderful. Today, as we all run off in different directions, I hope they can still feel me smiling.
1Jodi Hills1 CommentLikeCommentShare