Can you climb that tree?
It wasn't that long ago.
Three decades is all though I can't climb that tree anymore.
I want to capture Renee's family for her though she already sees them everyday. Anna and Abby, one serious and full of study, the other ethereal and dreamy. The dreamy one tells me everything they create, how they play homeless and become orphan children on the balcony at the beach and how when I take her picture she feels like a star.
You are. I am your paparazzi, I explain.
Her eyes look up and she thinks about it then laughs with the cousins at the table. There is Hunter, her older brother sitting at the end and both she and her sister look at him. He talks to them with his eyes much more than with his mouth and carries the weight of approval or not. Oh the responsibility of their older teenage sibling.
The photo I get of him is his smile, his approval and both girls laugh when they see Hunter thinks something is funny.
The twin to his left, she looks at Hunter as if he discovered a brand new law of physics and if she doesn't make a mental note of it the world would not receive the gift of his knowledge. She wants to understand everything he is saying so she quickly goes back to her study and the cookie she is eating.
There is Jeff, Renee's husband. Uncle Bryant prompts him, Tell 'em how y'all used to rabbit hunt, Jeff.
Jeff is sitting but stands, straightens his jeans and before long his arms are outstretched as he proceeds to tell how they'd rabbit hunt in the Mississippi Delta. I smile, look at Renee who's sitting to my left and she smiles back. The guy she loves is Clarksdale's answer to Yazoo's Clower. Jerry meet Jeff, a master of stories.
There is Uncle Bryant, Aunt Patricia, Robert. Cathy, Dylan, Carly. And Mallory, of course. There is all of us but if I was going to be honest which I guess I always should then I have to say I came to this party to see everyone but the camera, it came for one particular cousin.
Today I am grateful for cousins and memories and running and laughing and a loyalty and responsibility which is remembered through decades of all that was.