Day 3 Schultz Family East Coast Tour: Derry, NH

Five hours and 150 miles later, we arrive to a houseful of kin in Derry, NH, with members travelling from as far away as Oregon and as close as neighboring Hooksett, NH. Whereas with the earlier part of this trip I played the role of the oldest cousin by a number of years, on this side of the family I am the baby cousin by more than a decade. My second cousins, in fact, are much closer to my age.

And the occasion for this grand reunion? My first cousin’s daughter (my second cousin) has had her first child, therefore relieving me of childbearing duty for several more years and delighting Schultz family members galore, not the least of whom are my parents. Little Cloe is just sixteen days old, her mother about my age and all smiles and sass and still her best, humorous self that I remember.

The first thing three generations say down the line as I walk in the door?

“Katey! We heard you met a man!”

“Yeah, we heard you met someone!”

“You got a man?”

I wave them off and look at Dad, who, mysteriously, is looking at the ceiling. But alas, they are women and they are kin, so when I say “Ha, ha, don’t go there,” they call him a few fowl names and let it drop. (I am not a namecaller but my cousins are, which allows me access to a sort of sideways sense of evil satisfaction while still securing my sainthood, hah!) You’d think, with five generations of our family having lived in South Boston, that there’d be more important things to talk about — like the Red Sox winning the recent World Series, for example.

My parents push through the hallway, around the corner, and into the living room where little baby Cloe sits bundled in pink from head to toe. Ten other family members follow and the room falls silent with our stares. I feel a collective breath exhaled and still, the silence holds. There is nothing like the peace that a newborn brings and here, the smallest and youngest baby I’ve seen in years!

Later, after the Italian feast and grilled steak, after the baby nursing and the wedding photos from this summer, and after a fall-down knee-slapping impromptu performance by my cousins and I in the kitchen to “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston, it is time to sit down. We can’t all fit in one room so of course I stick wtih the teenagers, who I pleasantly discover have also outgrown their videogames. We sit in a room with a giant screen TV that is not turned on, with game cartridges that are not plugged in, and with stereos that are turned off, and we TALK. One brother walks into the room at a certain point and says, “Hey, Guitar Hero 2, k?” and the other says, “No, not now man. I’m bonding with my family.” This, from a 15 year-old freshman in high school. Yes!

We talk with the lights out while Chris plays guitar (I taught him how to read Tablature and now he’s practicing “Here Comes the Sun”) and Josie reads to me from her journal. She wants to publish her poems, she says, and the likes to write in her journal everyday. We talk about Chris’ visit to the principal’s office for making out with his girlfriend in the hallway, about David’s lunch menu choices ($1.85 for two hotdogs, a side, milk, dessert, and fruit), and Josie’s neighborhood boy crush. Chris tells me about the No Touching Policy at his school and Josie tells me about the teacher who got fired at her school for too much touching. David tells me about summer school at Harvard (yes, he’s a wiz) and a new appliance called a microfridge designed for college dorms.

Some choice quotes from the evening:

“How many more of the natives want steak tips? Raise your hand so we can divide it out fairly.”

“Got milk?” (This spoken by a mother to her daughter who is breastfeeding the newborn)

“The last time I took the bus to New York I spit at the Yankee Stadium.”

“Ooonafoccatiadabonnacactchia!” (Sicial cussing)

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