The party was at my sister's house. Family members arrived early, lugging in card tables, lawn chairs, ice chests, and food. One table was covered with all kinds of salads and trays of cold food, while a crockpot of meatballs and sauce simmered in the kitchen. People of all ages crammed into the small backyard, everyone talking at once. My sister and brother-in-law moved through the crowd, bringing out more food, clearing away empty soda or beer cans. The teenagers stood in a circle, playing hacky sack. I saw my Mom in a long discussion with Film Guy, who is Daughter's boyfriend. My Dad sat at the table of just-graduated college students and told them about his college days. Parents of toddlers followed their kids around, trying to prevent them from putting odd items in their mouths. With-a-Why found a curtain rod that could be used as a light sabre and spent the whole party bringing balance to the force.
My brother-in-law's family are all from Georgia or Maryland, and I just never get tired of hearing those voices - that calm, slow, easy-going way of talking. I feel myself relaxing just listening to the conversation, no matter what it is about. The women on my side of the family, in contrast, talk very fast and talk with their hands, lots of animated, high-pitched discussions and enthusiastic screams, bringing an element of excitement to the party. My sister's three daughters - School Teacher Niece, Red-haired Niece, and Blonde Niece -- are especially animated, all swishing their long silky hair as they talk.
The weather is always part of the conversation at backyard parties. Will the rain hold off? Do you think we've had the last hard frost? Did you get your garden in yet? It was a cool day so whenever the sun came out from behind the clouds, we would all jockey for positions in the sun. When inevitably, the rain did come, we huddled under the awning, pulling tables of food under with us. Except for With-a-Why, who happily entertained us by dancing in the downpour with a sneakered version of Singing in the Rain.