Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back in the day

When I was younger, I always hated it when adults would talk about how fast time was going. For me, it was going sooo slooowww!!! A week seemed like an eternity, especially if I was looking forward to something. However, I have now become one of those old lady types who constantly comments on how fast time is moving. I am shocked when I realize that my youngest niece will be three next week, or that my oldest niece will be in first grade already. My nephew starts kindergarten, and little Allie will be attending preschool. What?? When did this happen? I'm not even their parent and I'm amazed at how quickly they have grown.

This past weekend I spent some time with my extended family at our (sometimes) annual reunion. The first part of the weekend was spent at the Presbyterian Camp on Okoboji. I worked at that camp during the summer of 2003, and it was one of the best and worst summers of my life. I loved working at camp. It was a ton of work, but it rarely seemed overwhelming. Of course, that was eight years ago, so who knows how accurate my memory is.


EIGHT years ago???

See how quickly time goes? It's always fun to get together with my mom's side of the family. We have gotten together almost yearly for as long as I can remember. Of course, as we have gotten older, not everyone is able to make it. This time, eight of the ten cousins were able to come, which was nice. After Okoboji, we headed up to Windom, MN, where my grandparents live, and where I was born. The first day we were there, we started pulling out old pictures. Pictures of when our parents were younger, before we were even on their minds. And pictures of each of us as we came into the world and into our crazy family.

So much has changed since many of those pictures were taken. I remember long summer days at my grandparents' cabin on Fish Lake outside of Windom. I would be in the water as early as possible, and stay in until I was threatened to be left, only taking breaks for lunch and cookies. I loved the lake. There were two metal flights of steps down to the dock, and if you were especially tough, you would do it without shoes on. Some of us would run and jump into the freezing water all at once, while others might take an hour to fully submerge, preferring to acclimate a little at a time. Hours were spent having underwater tea parties and doing underwater acrobatics. We would make special trips to Pamida to buy floaties and noodles, and then wait expectantly for one of the few boats on the lake to whiz past and create perfect waves for floating. When we were younger, my younger cousins and I were not allowed past the end of the dock without an adult present, and we would grumble as we watched the older cousins trek out to the middle of the lake to find the dropoff, or just float where no trees could create a cold shadowy area on the water. As we got older, we would make the trek ourselves, toting large rocks that would pull us down down down, our goal being to touch the bottom of the lake and bring back a handful of sand as proof of our accomplishment. We rarely achieved the goal. This weekend we were discussing the fact that our parents couldn't possibly have known what we were up to, or they would have put it to an immediate stop. My grandparents sold the cabin years ago, but the time spent there is one of my happiest memories.

Back in town, when we were little, we would spend hours in the basement at my grandparents' "house on the hill." We would have ping pong tournaments or play on the piano. The best thing to do was raid the old clothes in the laundry room. Prom dresses and other clothing that had been kept for one reason or another became our costumes for the plays we would write and act out every summer. We found pictures of a group of us dressed up in such costumes, and as soon as I get it scanned, I'll post it, because it's too great not to share. As we got older, my younger cousins and I would spy on the older cousins as they met up with other teenagers around Windom. I remember being extremely jealous when my brother and another cousin would take the youngest girls to McDonald's to pick up girls. I wasn't cute enough to be bait. My grandparents sold their house and moved into a condo more their size several years back. There's not nearly as much room for kids to run and play, but since everyone is only around once a year, it hardly made sense for them to keep such a large house. I don't even drive past the old house on the hill anymore. It's changed almost beyond what I can recognize.

There are so many memories I would like to write down, to share with others and to keep for my own. Memories of walking to the Pine Inn while it was still open and getting ice cream. My grandparents were part owners of the Pine Inn back in the day. Now there is only a dealership where the rustic old restaurant used to stand. Memories of walks to the park and downtown shopping. Windom's downtown has gone the way of so many small town downtowns. I don't even make it there when we are visiting anymore.

There have been so many changes just in my lifetime, and I can't imagine how it must be for my parents and aunts and uncles who grew up in a completely different Windom. One thing that is always constant, while still changing, is my family. They are the type of people who I can barely say boo to for an entire year, and pick up again right where we left off. People I am never uncomfortable around. These people have seen me through my awkward stages, including the current one, and (mostly) love me anyway. I love my family. They drive me crazy sometimes, but I love them all the same. I'm already looking forward to next year's reunion, where we will celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary! The amazing couple that started it all :)