This weekend, one of my cousins, let's call her Red, "graduated" from a drug rehabilitation program in Manhattan, and a bunch of us went out there to show our support.
For me this was a big deal because as a little girl I used to look up to my cousins- Before my sister was born, I was the baby in our little family, and when I found out what sort of mess my cousin had gotten herself into I did everything to distance myself from her. No one wants to see their heroes fall...
But that was then; yesterday she was embarking on a brand new start, proclaiming her commitment to getting clean, reuniting with us, and eventually, her three kids. It was definitely an emotional time... she didn't look the same, yet she did... does that make sense? I mean, she still has the prettiest red hair I've ever seen on a human (yes- a Dominican redhead, complete with freckles...don't ask why, just accept it), but it's a little thinner now. And her eyes don't sparkle so much as they used to, and her smile has suffered the side effects of drug use, but it was still reminiscent of her old smile.
There was no mistaking that voice, though, a watered down version of a nasally, Fran Drescher-type voice that my grandmother and great-grandmother would always bother her about: Red, deja de hablar por la nariz! It was nice to hear it again, laughing, joking in English and Spanish... it even has a bit of a Southern twang to it, something I guess she picked up from her time living in Florida.
It was also great to see her brother R; when we were kids he was my play father and would order me around... and stupid me would listen! He'd tell me to change my clothes if he felt something was inappropriate, tell me to do my homework, clean my plate, etc... threaten to beat up any dudes who even thought to look my way, stuff an older brother would do... it had been forever and a day since I saw him.
And my aunt- wow, that was a shock; she was there to support her daughter and that was awesome, because for some time there she was all hands-off and refusing to get involved. Yesterday we found out that she's been supporting her daughter throughout the whole rehab process and that really made me happy; while my cousin was giving her speech at the ceremony I shed a few tears of joy for her, and said a quiet little prayer that she can stay on this path.
I always kept myself away from her, not wanting to be involved with addicts and their drama, but after yesterday I can't really do that anymore, because I saw how happy she was to see all of us, how much it touched her, and how much she needed it. I think it's the only way to keep her from relapsing. Not that I'm gonna be all in it and shit; you know, I got babies to look out for, but whatever I can do to help, yeah, sign me up for that.
After my grandmother passed the family just fell apart; we don't really get together the way we used to- ALL of us like we used to. I totally miss my grandmother's family, and I don't want there to be another funeral in order for us to get together.
And now for my usual shenanigans and tomfoolery...
So during the TWO HOUR SERVICE we had to attend for Red's graduation, Minnie and I, of course, proceeded with the inappropriate behavior that we're pretty much famous for. First she texts me about the horrific singing by the choir, and then to point out the dancing fool sitting in the front pew, as documented in these transcripts I got from my phone:
"LMAO! 'Nobody like Jesus!'"
"Did you see Shayquanda gettin down? You know I had to record it!!!"
"I saw you!"
and the "preacher" who gave the "sermon" was a HOT GHETTO MESS, you hear me? I've never experienced such a terrible public speaker in my LIFE! I'm almost afraid to leave Red in his hands... he couldn't motivate a fly to sit on a piece of shit if you ask me! He said stuff like: "you need a man and a woman to be born, right?" Really? Two parents? what a novel idea, genius! and "don't bother trying to be like your parents or your grandparents, because they're just gonna die anyway..." WHAT? THEY'RE GONNA DIE? WHO TOLD YOU THAT?!?!?! And he mocked Catholicism, which usually I enjoy, but the way he did it was just ignorant, and he kept reading from his notes instead of speaking from the heart...
But my personal favorite episode of inappropriateness was notes we passed that said:
ME: There's a cutie over there
Minnie: Girl you are crazy! But I ain't mad, I seen one, too!
ME: Is everybody in here in rehab? Cuz I'm about to slip him my digits. HA HA HA
Mari says we're triflin' for trying to mack on a recovering addict. I say, I'm just doing my part to help him on his journey... he's more than welcomed to substitute me for drugs any day!
*smooches... so so sure that that last sentence just guaranteed my spot in hell*
as she walked us out, I also noticed how we all just clicked again and assumed our same roles from when we were kids- R and Red as the elder jokesters, Minnie the trouble making bully (yeah, I said it! You threatened me into taking that piece of cake!!) and me, the baby. It kinda felt like home :)
Title courtesy of Pink, "Family Portrait"