As my brother and I drove to nana’s birthday we almost got lost in the labyrinth of great dark homes but wondered how because that country club was our summers, and how could we forget that? So we shared memories of sliding on the grass in our slippery skins and of holding hands hoping the other wouldn’t take the leap of faith from the high dive because then we would have to, and of putting grilled cheeses and popsicles on grandpa’s tab. When we walked inside I saw small girls with dark curling hair and white skin and big eyes. Girls who like ghost stories and want to be hobbits in the movies and who were born to carve serpentining scars through deep white powder. Girls that come from nana’s sons; she has five plus one daughter. Girls that share my blood, that are darker, dimpled versions of me.

Our dinner was pink steak and herbed creamy mashed potatoes with brown sugared squashes. The newest mother, one of the small dimpled girl had just written about fall squashes and her recipes, so we had all read and cooked and eaten the squashes as she had said to. So we compared the squashes at dinner to the ones we had eaten separately, but together. And they were warm with sugar and butter and smelled like fall and home. Then came the pie that one girl thought was just plain pie not apple pie because she didn’t know that pie comes in flavors. And we laughed and ate and laughed. And the room was full of us, connected by blood and memory, by loss and laughter, by pie and joy, and we were full.

Together we listened to the stories of our past, our history, our memory. A son-and- uncle told of nana shooting him with his bee-bee gun after he gloated over a glistening hummingbird’s body. Another son-and-uncle told of the sacrifice she made when she cared for three extra children that belonged to her twin because his wife died when she was twenty-seven, leaving her little clan motherless. They told of punishments and cleanliness, of arm-wrestling their mom, and of mud fights in the field, of being hit by cars and of a father who watched over them, day and night. One son-and-uncle said “Sometimes everything in your life is right, you are warm and you can hear your parents cooking bacon on a frigid morning in the drafty cabin and you know you are safe and warm and full.” Another reminded us that we are blessed to have the connections to one another that we do because any of us would do anything for the others, and that is what it means to be safe and warm and full.

We laughed and shared old stories again and again until the moon was overhead and the stars had been sparkling, reflecting in the pool outside for a long time. And as we left and kissed each other’s cheeks and promised more recipes and writing, we knew that everything was right.