At 3:00 am on a Thursday morning, we left on a trip; me, my mother, and my aunts. And my first-cousin-once-removed, for good measure.
“Can I come along?” I’d begged my mother, a week and a half prior. I’d enviously heard her plan this trip, to a ladies’ retreat in Montana where she was speaking, and wished I could go along. But I didn’t ask to go, because I thought I’d be working.
But then I realized the trip was over Spring Break.
“I won’t take up much room!” I said. “I won’t pack too much! I won’t talk to much!”
So they let me come.
It was a 12 hour drive to Montana, a long weekend with late chatty nights, and a 12 hour drive home. I have never had a 12 hour drive go by so fast. Someone was always stirring up an interesting new topic of discussion. There wasn’t a silent moment. We talked, and laughed, and talked some more.
And I decided that of all the things in life you can choose to make time for, you should choose to hang out with your aunts.
It’s not just that they’re fun, and that they’ll always be there for you, and that they know all the family gossip. It’s also that they say things about themselves, and suddenly I know, “Oh, that isn’t just a weird thing I do. That’s how my family is.”
I thought of this when they mentioned feeling “wiggly” when people get too emotional, or how easy it is to whip out counterarguments that make other people feel stupid and how hard it is to remember to choose to be kind instead. I thought of this when they discussed their tendencies to resolve conflict as though everyone is a Smucker who wants a logical list. I thought of this when we wanted to stop to eat, and everyone else thought $15 for a meal was way too expensive, too.
The retreat itself was lovely. From Thursday evening until Saturday noon we ate good food, chatted with friendly ladies from across Montana, Washington, and Idaho, and listened to my Mother’s wonderful talks. The camp we stayed at was in the woods by a frozen lake. It was cold and snowy outside, with wood stoves blazing inside.
But the trip will always stand out in my memory because of the amazing time I had hanging out with my aunts.