Families, Felines and Fritos
The last time I saw you, I was frantically trying to get a hold of some chips and snacks. Oddly enough, the very next day I was called to go house-sit for Tweet’s Aunt Mary for a couple of days. This is what I found in the kitchen pantry.
Is that a can of Pringles on the bottom shelf, you ask? Oh yeah, it is. Jackpot!
The main reason why Aunt Mary required a house-sitter became abundantly clear as soon as we entered the adorable bungalow in a village called Dilton Marsh, just a few minutes from Tweet’s parents’ house. This is Mary’s new housemate.
As we were dropped off, we were told that his name is Arima. Could we remember that name five minutes later? Of course not. Over the course of the next two days, we called him Athos, Amorous, Aramus, Army, ‘Arry Potter, and Jack Black. We finally settled on “Ari,” and left it at that.
In all seriousness, I have to confess that I was really nervous about this. I was just getting used to how different British homes are from American ones; how on earth was I going to cope with another one? Also, I was taking a BIG step in volunteering to take on a role that is specifically designed for a family member. Would I be accepted in this role? Would everyone feel comfortable having me do this?
Fortunately, Tweet was able to accompany me. (She’s been in the process of interviewing for jobs, so I wasn’t sure she’d be able to at first.) Needless to say, I was delighted when her schedule cleared so that she could come along. For the first two days, it was just the two of us in the house.
On the third day, Tweet’s grandparents brought Mary home. She hadn’t been feeling well and had been taken to the hospital for some tests. Fortunately, she was just fine, but I still ended up staring into Nana’s eyes as she asked us to stay with Mary for another couple of days ‘just to make sure,’ and I found myself unable to say no. Nana is an intelligent, powerful and somewhat intimidating Scottish woman and I kinda got the feeling that no one said no to her. My Irish Nana was exactly the same way; the resemblance was eerie.
So we spent another two and half days with Mary and Ari, watching movies, cooking, chatting away and giggling. We had a wonderful time. I’ve spent so much time over the last several weeks learning about the many differences between British and American culture, but the most startling thing I’ve learned while at Mary’s house is that families are the same, no matter where they live.
Do aunts/uncles/grandparents like to tell embarrassing stories about the younger folk? Absolutely. Did pictures of said embarrassing stories get produced as evidence, including three-year-old Tweet naked in a bathtub with stuffed animals? You bet. Are there odd family dynamics (these cousins don’t get along with those cousins, this uncle streaked at a family Christmas party, and that uncle isn’t allowed to drink whisky or he gets ornery)? Of course.
Most importantly was the fact that by the time Nana and Papa came to pick us up and bring us home yesterday, I no longer felt like an outsider to the family. I had slipped several times and said ‘Auntie Mary,’ instead of ‘Ms Mary,’ and she hadn’t minded at all. Instead, I felt that I’d gained a quirky-cool young aunt – the kind who takes you out to lunch sometimes and talks about crystals, spirits and angels.
I have no idea what kind of angels are watching over me these days, but I feel much more confident about becoming a true member of this family now. I really love them all. And the next time I feel the need to play with a kitten or get my salt-snack fix? I’m heading to Aunty Mary’s.