Friday - is the day when the gracious Kate Motaung gives us a one-word prompt and we respond. In five minutes. However and with whatever we can -- wherever our thoughts and key-tapping fingers take us. Then we stop. The prompt today is Same.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
"You look exactly the same."
It was my cousin's daughter, my first cousin, once removed (I had to look it up - the removed means one generation away - still family - all family...). I remember her with her sister, sitting on what was then my Aunt's front porch steps, their long hair falling all the way down their backs until it curled in ringlets on the peeling-paint, worn wood where we had plunked our summer-tan selves down, to catch a breather from Indiana-farm-swelter. I wondered what it was like to have that wealth of hair, to have the big eyes and the turned-up noses, the straight, wide, white smiles. I was the city cousin, come to visit - my life just as romantic and intriguing to them, as theirs was to me.
"Same smile, same dimples, same eyes - You haven't aged at all..."
How does one argue with that? In these days of feeling not-good-enough, not-pretty-enough, not-young-enough. In these days of resumes, and interviews, and being told that in this state, one doesn't even qualify for that certificate - the very one attained through a framed Master's degree hanging on the wall.
Smile and nod.
Laugh it off with a "thank you." With a sincere thank you.
Tell her how envious you were as a child. How much you wished for that hair, that smile - that all-american cute... Tell her that you can still see the girl on the porch - even though the years have passed. Tell her same-same. And smile.
And then listen well. Because we are together as family and it's been too long. Because catching up goes beyond our looks, and beyond our childhood memories. Beyond our outsides. Because we have gathered and in the gathering are stories. Stories of how we've changed, how we've grown, how we've overcome. Stories of blessings and difficulties, hope and disappointment, and faith. Stories that define us.
So we talked. And we listened. And we laughed. We did all those things that Indiana-family does - played cards, made music with guitars and singing, prepared and ate good food, cleaned up together - we enjoyed. All those things I remembered as a child, visiting, only this time, we were the adults.
Same but not. Better.