In 1973, my whole family lived here. Twenty-six of us were in New England, and that was just on my mother’s side. From Nana and Papa right down to lucky cousin #13, most of us lived within 20 miles of Boston and braved entire Red Sox seasons and decades of snow-melt sprinkling and shoveling together. When power went out in one of our towns, we just packed up and piled into the closest cousin’s house that still had cable. Today from that group, it’s just Aunt & Uncle #1 and cousins #2 and #3 who still need puffy coats. The rest moved to Florida.
My grandfather moved the family hardware business in the mid-‘70s (one I regret not going into, given its success), choosing America’s longest-lasting penis joke as a permanent residence. He eventually lured the majority of the family to follow him to the crotch of the nation. Well, one moved to Louisiana. But that’s just the Florida of the South. Ask northerners who move to Florida why they would do that on purpose, and they’ll tell you, “I got tired of the cold.” To which I add, “You’re always cold. Now you’re just cold when it dips below 70.” I was born in a snowstorm in January– about a mile from Fenway Park. Two things I know and love are snow and baseball. Why would anyone leave this? We hearty few refuse to fly south to escape weather that was designed for unflattering jackets and four months of whining because we’re New Englanders! But to add insult to frostbite, we have to hand over entire paychecks to JetBlue to visit these thinner-skinned relatives… in F-ing Florida.
With our holidays wrapped, and family fleeing to Friggin’ Florida, it was time to reunite the best substitute for actual blood relations: old friends. Agent 99 and I had a little cocktail party last weekend. Britt, Tony, the splendid Gammonses-Browns and Jason gathered at my Mall-à-terre. I made rum punch and 99 shared her mulled wine recipe. (“Just put in these spices and a lot of alcohol.”) With some amusement, I noticed that when drinking, we all turn into ersatz cousins, brothers, sisters and those two uncles who know exactly how to fix the world. Uncle Left wants to have a 100% inheritance tax (“Fuck You, Trust Funders!”). Uncle Right is tired of the slackers (“Fuck You, Freeloaders!”). And at the end of the night everyone still loves each other, making plans to do it all over again next year.
I dropped off my snowbird parents at Logan Airport early Friday morning, feeling like they must have when they delivered me and sister Boo to summer camp: “Have an awesome time in the sun… see you in two months!” Actually, I suspect they felt a mixture of relief and excitement to be rid of us for a handful of weeks. But there was probably a bit of that aren’t-you-lucky-to-avoid-local-weather-and-responsibility sentiment. Now it’s their turn to enjoy rest and relaxation in perfect, puffy-coat-free weather. Escaping frozen pipes and ice dams and slippery sidewalks and AccuWeather warnings of a doozy of a storm on the way, my parents were only too happy to get settled in Fabulous Florida.
But after only twenty hours in penis-shaped paradise, a text from Mom:
Enjoy the storm. I certainly will be.