March 8, 2010

Enemy Mine

The internet is a weird and wondrous place.

I have mentioned that there’s a side of my family that I haven’t seen for 20 years, though they live cheek and jowl next my sisters and brother. They’re the part of the family that we had the whole Hatfields and McCoys thing going with. I’m not going to go into it here (though someday I’d like to write a memoir about it) but let me just say bad things happened and not many on my side of the family speaks to that side of the family.

So I was on Facebook today and I clicked on the friends list of a friend from my old home town to find someone and I came across a name that sounded familiar. It was the daughter of one of these cousins all grown up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her, even when she was a little bitty thing. I glanced at her friends and came across the names of all the cousins’ kids. They’re all grown up. They’re adults now falling in love and going to school and getting married. Most are around northern Wyoming, but one’s a cowboy in Australia, and one’s here in Laramie going to college.

Let’s see if I can explain how this made me feel.

When I was in Lovell, I was a kid and a teenager, and my memories of that time are like any teenager’s: troubled, high highs and low lows, angst and terror, passion and betrayal. All that. And these kids are that age and older and they’re going through those things now. But it was their parents that influenced my feelings at that age.

So to see these kids for the first time, knowing their parents and the complicated past, makes me wonder about these kids. Did they have good childhoods? Are they happy? Are they good people? Were they affected by the goodness and badness of their parents? These people are related to me, and I do not know them and probably never will.

It leaves me with the weird longing I felt when I was that age but layered with the double consciousness of the happiness I have now. The distance from that part of my life. My empathy with kids in general and hope for their future.

I wish them health and happiness and peace. Most of all, I wish them freedom from the need for an enemy.

What I’m Reading Today: Appropriately, more wonderful Ghosts of Wyoming.

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