One of my friends on Facebook is my cousin, Carmelita. Her posts are always funny and clever and interesting. And here’s the thing, I had never met her before. We’re fourth or fifth cousins, and we met through her work on the family genealogy. Carmelita lives in Austin, so I wanted to meet her while I’m here. We arranged to meet at her house, where she could show me old family photographs—old like from the 1800’s some of them.
I gave myself an hour to get to her house, which the GPS said was plenty of time. It wasn’t. A smart device like that, and it didn’t take traffic conditions into consideration! I arrived about 20 minutes late. Carmelita wasn’t upset about that because she was working from home, so she could just continue working while she waited for me. She came out and hugged me in the driveway. Then she said, “Gosh! I hope we like each other!” I said that I didn’t have any doubt because I already like her, based on her posts.
We went into the house, and her house has lots of great photos taken by her husband, and lots of cool very Texan stuff. I love her house! And she has three very affectionate cats. Yes, Cousin Carmelita and I are definitely compatible! She brought down the panoramic picture of the 100th family reunion, and I showed her Mom and Daddy and Grandma and my older son. She knew my branch of the family very well. Our family descended from a Texas pioneer couple who had thirteen children. The family grew exponentially from that beginning, so it is a very large family. I’m from the oldest daughter, while Carmelita is from the fifth son.
Then I discovered that we have even more in common: Carmelita writes. Today she is starting a novel for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you write a 50,000 word novel in one month. It doesn’t have to be a good one, but it must have a beginning and an end. This is not her first time to write a novel for the contest. I was impressed. I’ve written two novels three-quarters of the way through, and then lost interest. For me, the problem is that I find real life so much stranger and funnier, more tear-jerking, exciting, gut-wrenching, and unpredictable than anything I could possibly make up.
Since I am making up for a severe Mexican food deficit, she took me out for dinner. The food was not traditional Tex-Mex, but excellent and unmistakably Mexican. We were surrounded by pirates, witches, fairies, and zombies—it being Halloween. Austin people celebrate their weirdness and encourage each other to do so with the ubiquitous bumper sticker: Keep Austin Weird. I’m sorry, but I think the rest of the world is just not weird enough. I love Austin!
We returned to the house, carefully dodging trick-or-treaters, and I met Carmelita’s husband, Nigel. They seem to be a really good match. He’s just as funny and nice as she is. Before I left them, Nigel took our picture with our great-great-great-great grandparents (well, a picture of them).
You know, I think Cousin Carmelita and Nigel like her eccentric missionary cousin from Italy. I certainly like them! God is good!