This weekend I found myself traveling to Memphis alone, not for an assignment, not for editorial research, but to spend time with one of my oldest—and dearest—friends and her two little girls. Oh, and they all just happen to be related to me, which is just an added benefit. Plus, they’re about as cute as they come.
What can I say? Our family produces pretty, curly-haired babies. Smart ones, too. Here’s what McKayla said she was going to do with the $25 birthday money her “Big Daddy” (my 90-year-old grandfather) sent her this week for her fourth birthday.
While my sole sibling, Kari, was six years younger than me—a favorable age difference, if you ask me—I still enjoyed the benefit of having another “sister,” Rebecca, who was more or less my same age. My mom’s only brother had twins who were just a year ahead of me in school, and seeing as my grandparents lived down the street from us growing up, the three other grandchildren frequently came to town for holidays and summer breaks.
I could never say Rebecca’s name as a child, so from the time we were toddlers, she became “Coco,” and my name proved too difficult for her to pronounce as well, so I was always “Kiki.” We still go by these monikers today, much to McKayla’s dismay. “Stop calling my mommy ‘Coco!'” she demanded of me this weekend. I said sorry kid, but that’s never going to happen.
We may have had our squabbles when we were wee tots—or rather, Coco, who still is on the edge of being vertically challenged at 4 feet and 11 inches, was wee; I was always abnormally tall for my age until I hit fifth grade—usually over Putt-Putt or some other equally competitive endeavor like vying for our Dede’s attention, but we were the best of friends from middle school on. I was in her wedding, she would have been in mine had I included a bridal party, and we see each other every chance we get. Now that I’m in Tennessee, those occurrences are more frequent than not: We went to Memphis in December, her family came to our neck of the woods in January, we all went to Bourbon Country in May, I went to them this month, and in July, we’ll all spend a couple weeks at the beach in Florida together.
And now Coco has the cutest children on Earth, McKayla and Margaret—and the most fun husband/kindest dad John—and as he was traveling in Europe for two weeks, I figured I’d pop by for a couple nights and see my favorite girls, as well as provide Coco with some much-needed “adult” company.
And if I’m being honest, I was overdue for some much-needed “girlfriend” time, too.
And we played hard. We drummed. We danced.
We ate PBJs and Goldfish and drank lots of Capri Suns. We tended to the garden.
We—OK, they (otherwise it’s a little bit weird)—ran around naked in the front yard. As Coco scolded them, “girls, we don’t play outside without our clothes anymore. We live in Germantown now.” Ha! Yuppie.
We watched a whole lot of Yo Gabba Gabba! (I’d still like to meet the drug addict who was high when creating that show. It’s just plain bizarre.) We sang loud—some of us louder than others.
We had pool days. We ate at the girls’ favorite Mexican restaurant “Elmo Cow.” We FaceTimed SVV and Uncle Andrew. Marg and I spent some one-on-one time together while Coco and McK went to see Brave.
We (the adults) drank our signature drinks, Dickel and Drops, after they (the girls) went to bed each night. I wish I could have stayed longer but—vague alert!—there’s a whole lot going on in these parts in the career (and house-hunting) corner. Someday I might share. But not just yet.
And so on Saturday, I drove the four hours back home, delivered the cherry tomatoes that McK grew and picked for SVV and Big Daddy, and got an influx of texts from Coco saying there was one mighty disappointed four year old come 3:01pm when she awoke from her nap. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me the tiniest bit pleased (though sad at the same time, as I wish I could see the girls more frequently or “stay for 10 nights” as McK requested).
Increased family time has been one of the best things about our cross-country move, though I know some of you thought us insane for leaving California for the sticks. (We have not regretted the decision even slightly. Not once.) And since SVV and I don’t want children of our own—to all you skeptics, no we have not changed our minds simply because I love, adore and spoil rotten my surrogate nieces, and no I don’t think you’re going to change our minds for us anytime soon—it’s so nice of Coco and John to offer theirs up for borrow when I am in need of some M&Ms in my life.