Eventually, I gave up trying to do the math in my head and went to fetch a piece of paper. Here are my notes:
Pod 1: Solo uno ( “Only one.” Oh: I’m learning Italian in hopes of a trip there later this year, so I’m practicing.) This pod is obviously an aberration; there would usually be sette (seven) but uno dei nipoti (one of the grandchildren) had a lacrosse tournament somewhere near Havre de Grace (that’s French), so sei (six) went to watch him and solo uno came here.
Pod 2: Absent; missed.
Pod 3: Ditto; still very raw.
Pod 4: Total of otto (eight): La nonna (the grandmother); 2 daughters; 1 husband (the other had to work); quattro grandchildren, including the newest member of the family, la bambina Cameron, making her debut!
Pod 5: Unexcused absence.
Pod 6: Due nonni (two grandparents), le loro due figlie (their two daughters), i loro due mariti (their two husbands) e sei nipoti (and six grandchildren). Total of dodeci (twelve)! Pod 6 in the lead!
Pod 7 (ours): Due di noi (two of us); il filgio (the son); la figlia (the daughter), suo marito (her husband), e quattro bambini (and four kids). Total of nove (nine). Second place.
Pod 8: Excused absence; on Fire Island.
Pod 9: La sorellina (the baby sister), suo marito (her husband), i loro due filgi (their two children) e due amici (and two friends). Total of sei (six).
Honorary pods: due cari amici. (Two dear friends).
Did I miss anyone? Probably, but I think that makes trentotto (38) di noi (of us). Ammazza! (Wow!)
(Did I mention that I’ve been learning numbers and pronouns this week?)
Anyway, let’s assume that a) my math is correct and b) so are the numbers and pronouns. “Why?” you ask. Because yesterday, was Cousins Beach Day. I have no idea how to say that in Italian.
When you’re part of a large family, together time is important. Especially this year, after we haven’t really seen much of each other in too many months. So create a moment: un giorno in spiaggia (a day at the beach).
Il tempo (the weather) couldn’t have been better; it felt like estate (summer) again. La birra era fredda (the beer was cold. I learned that in Lezione Uno).
Cousins—in any language—are the glue that holds large families together across time, space, and generations. They create bonds that transcend family pods and distance apart; they are the links in the chains that hold us together. Once upon a time, I saw my cousins regularly usually in the summer at Uncle Dale’s house on Conneaut Lake. I learned to water ski with them. But since then, we’ve drifted apart, scattered like chaff to the winds. Mi mancano. (I miss them.)
Yesterday, I sat on the beach and watched the generations interact: the moms with their children; the helping husbands; the busy sisters. Easy chatting, probably about la dolce far niente—the “sweet do-nothings” that come with simple times easily shared. If there were a distant nube temporalesca (thundercloud) in the sunny summer sky, we didn’t see it yesterday. But then you never do. Che triste! (How sad!)
Torno subito! (I’ll be right back!)
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine.
Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com