Eric Fritter Riley (fritterfae) wrote,
Eric Fritter Riley

Funeral - Family - Friends

Being back in Cincinnati is weird and comforting at the same time.  In many respects nothing has changed.  There's still a fountain in fountain square. There's still a slew of restaurants and coffee shops and German sounding antiques dealers downtown.  But being so distant from my family means that I'm missing all of these major life changes going on constantly.  One of my younger cousins is a full grown young man, and I've only ever seen him as a baby.  Cousins who I talk to on Facebook are still sometimes muddled in my head when I see them in person.  Of the five of us who all grew up together, we're all of us married now, and three of five have children (2-5 of them each).  The only who don't have kids are the queer ones of us, so I guess we get a pass yet. 

There are entirely new babies.  Babies are adults, now.  Adults are growing into seniors.  And the seniors are crossing over one by one. 

I feel so far away. 

I don't come back home often.  I have a lot of conflicting emotions about it.  Not the people, just the experience.  I love my family, and they are the coolest people who anyone could ever ask to grow up with. I love my friends out here, because they continue to amaze me by being totally awesome.  And yet my life pulls me in so many other directions. 

This time I came back for my grandfather's funeral.  We were probably closer to my dad's side of the family than my mom's, if only for the fact of proximity to each other. So, his passing was meaningful, because it had so many memories of growing up attached.  I remember him going fishing with my dad.  Grilling steaks for everyone.  Laughing like crazy, and the daily little squabbles between him and my grandmother.  At the service the minister said that they had a "special" relationship, and everyone busted out laughing.  60 years together, and they still had a fire under each other.  When we were kids we would go have breakfast with my grandparents on Saturdays (and some other days), because they were right there next door.  There was always a Sunday dinner after they got back from church, and everyone would pile into the house. 

And now a piece of that is gone. 

But I remember what he put on those steaks. 

I got to see a ton of my family at the funeral.  They came from all over, and almost every one of them family.  Only a couple of other folks from the neighborhood and family friends dropped in.  Some folks looked so different that I didn't even recognize them.  A great aunt of mine has been struggling with cancer, and she's dropped so much weight she looked like her sister.  I couldn't even remember her name until I saw her with her husband, who hasn't changed a day.  I'm sure I looked very different to a lot of them too, because I used to be whip thin with long hair, and now I'm balding and grown into a weight that makes me look just like my mom's dad.

I finally got to meet my youngest niece.  I just haven't been home in so long that this two year old girl comes running in the house and I have to ask what her name is.  The older of the two of them is three now and she's tall as a five or six year old.  She's going to be an Amazon.  And they were a whirlwind together.  And still, I didn't introduce myself.  I just talked to them.  They're young yet, and I've got time to get to know them better.  But man, it feels weird to be related and yet isolated.

I think that's been the theme of this journey.  So close, and yet so far. 

I've spent half of this trip with friends.  Same as my family, the friends I left behind in Cincinnati are growing and changing and there are so many things that I just don't have on my radar.  New children, marriages, new relationships, and the same old same old.  Hopefully I'll get to see some more of them over today and tomorrow.  I've got at least three different visits lined up today, and I'm hoping to squeeze in one or two more in tomorrow before I go back to DC. 

Part of me wants to spend the rest of my life visiting with friends.  Traveling the world and seeing all of these people that I love.  Spending days with people and doing beautiful things together.  Hugs and drinks and hours of conversations and off the beaten path excursions and sharing in heart space with people.  Too much of my life is bound up in head space, and work, and daily grinds, and I don't take enough of the time I'm given to slow down and just be with the people I love.

Perhaps that should be my resolution. 
Tags: birth, death, family, friends, memories, traveling

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