Always Take The Weather With You

by | Apr 12, 2011 | Little Angie, RemembeRED: The Red Dress Club | 26 comments

Christmas Day.

It was warm but the sky was overcast. Grey clouds, heavy with the threat of rain. Muggy. It was impossible to tell if the weather would hold.

A good metaphor for Christmas lunch with family.

Always, there were the fond reunions. The familiar jokes. Each person slotting back into their place, no matter who they had managed to become away from and in spite of their family.

Invariably, the cracks would appear, small remarks finding their desired mark just under the skin. Old grievances reopened like a child picking at the crusted scab of a past hurt.

And our family gatherings were busy. Blended family with eight grown children, partners, grandchildren. Busy.

My nephews arrived. I squeezed their little bodies into mine, kissed their sweet, excited faces. I drew my sister-in-law into my embrace, told her I had missed her so. But their arrival was always weighted with tension.

Older than me. Loving. At his core, a good man. But a grey cloud over an otherwise sunshiney day.

Quite suddenly, he could change a room’s atmosphere, an energy field crackling around him, almost visible. There was a collective holding of the breath.

It was impossible to know if his good mood would hold.

After lunch, gift-opening revealed super soakers, giant contraptions of garish fluorescent plastic. The water pistol on steroids.

He was instrumental in inciting a full-out water fight.

Bodies ran about the back yard, giving chase, hovering around corners like Hollywood cops. Laughter and screams and begging for mercy. Tendrils of wet hair plastered to ecstatic faces.

“Not me! Don’t wet, Granma! My contacts are in! My contacts!”

Poor Betty. The oldest and the slowest. She had a target on her back. She hovered inside the front door, caught between not wanting to get wet and not wanting to miss out. All the while, a body was positioning itself on the roof, a bucket of water readied for the first glimpse of her silvery hair.

I was the worst kind of participant. I gave the obligatory squeals of protest but tired of the game long before anyone else. Already having changed clothes once, when he targeted me a second time, I just crouched on the ground, wrapping myself into a ball. He trained the jet of water on me until my refusal to resist sucked the fun right out of it.

He had always been disappointed I was such a….girl. A baby. The baby.

Inside, I peeled the second lot of wet clothes from my body and with a towel pulled firmly around me, I made a run for the sanctuary of my car.

Once inside, I locked the doors and began reading my book.

Another example of how very different we were.

Frustrated, he circled my car, looking for a way in. Others joined him, determined to get the princess. The car jiggled with their attempts to jimmy the lock on the car boot.

In time, they grew bored of me, and eventually, bored of the whole game.

The sky, still overcast, darkened earlier than usual. Christmas Day exhaustion was settling upon us all. Embracing one another, we promised to catch up again soon, not let so much time go by this time. We packed up and peeled away.

“Love you, sis” he told me. I told him I loved him, too.

The weather had held.  

 

 This piece was written in response to the RemembeRED prompt: This week, we're giving you a photo to take you back in time. In 700 or fewer words, show us where your memory takes you. 

Hose



Hello friends

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I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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26 Comments

  1. Jane

    Your on fire at the moment lovely one =)

    Reply
  2. Galit Breen

    Yowsers woman! I have chills all over the place- I know this day, this feeling, this tension, this reunion.

    You captured so much, SHOWED so much.

    I loved this: “Invariably, the cracks would appear, small remarks finding their desired mark just under the skin. Old grievances reopened like a child picking at the crusted scab of a past hurt.” painful poetry. the best kind, yes?

    Reply
  3. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    This was so hard to write – maybe the hardest thing ever.

    This relationship is really the only one in my life that is still actively painful and difficult. And I never see him. But the space between us is loaded with history.

    Galit, thank you for ‘seeing’ what I was ‘showing.’

    Thank you so much.

    Reply
  4. Belle

    Genius, as always….

    Reply
  5. Ruthy

    I so loved that Christmas. It was one of the best times had in my adult life. I LOVE a good water fight. Well written as always Ange :))) Thanks for the memory :))

    Reply
  6. Frelle

    i saw what you were showing, and this was a very emotional, tense post to read.. i can totally understand why it was difficult to write as well. thank you so much for putting so much of your heart and your history out in this post, Im honored to be allowed to. and *HUGS* to you too.

    Reply
  7. MJ

    Families are complicated, and gatherings are loaded. I loved how you used the building storm to show this. Perfectly rendered.

    And now I have Crowded House in my head (Always Take the Weather with You is one my favourite songs of theirs). Thank you!

    Reply
  8. melbo

    You would not believe that I had my Crowded House CD in when I saw this and the very next track was that one.

    I agree with Jane – you are totally on fire at the moment.

    Reply
  9. bundy nana

    Such strong visual imagery, I felt I was watching with Betty from the front door.

    Reply
  10. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    It was an awesome day. So many funny memories.

    Yet as I was writing, I kept coming back to that tension. I think if he’s around, I feel it. Mum, too.

    Reply
  11. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, thank you.

    Your seeing makes it so worthwhile.

    Thank you for reading. xxx

    Reply
  12. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    How good is the song? A total mismatch for the actual situation to be honest but the title just lent itself.

    Thank you. xxx

    Reply
  13. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    No way, Mel. NO WAY! That is spooky – channeling on a whole other level now, aren’t we, lady?

    Thank you for reading, Mel. xxx

    Reply
  14. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much, Carol.

    It was a vivid memory for me so I am so glad I was able to translate that to you as a reader.

    Thank you. xxx

    Reply
  15. Jessica

    So, so sad, I remember feeling the tension between my brother and me growing up. I just never knew if he would be bored and quick-tempered that day, or the best big brother in the world. Thankfully, he grew out of it, or maybe I grew out of being an annoying little sister?

    So eloquent. Loved the read.

    Reply
  16. BalancingMama (Julie)

    I felt physically uncomfortable for you. I am probably that person, the one who gets bored quickly and doesn’t enjoy multiple soakings via the “water pistol on steroids”. And that tension? Feels so real, even through a computer screen. Very well done.

    -Julie from 3MomsIn1 (visiting more posts from TRDC!)

    Reply
  17. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Julie, thank you so much.

    That the tension was relayed to you is so wonderful to hear.

    The memory of that Christmas should be a happy one – we all had so much fun but I found it went somewhere quite different for me as I was writing it. That tension overrode everything else. Thank you for seeing that.

    Reply
  18. Kelli @ No. 7

    Oh, the pain of being the baby, the family outcast, the one who is ‘different’. I relate to this piece. I totally would have locked myself in the car too.

    Your words brought me to the same place that I go to before my own family gatherings. The pit in the stomach – hoping that this time they’ll be different and so will I. It never happens.

    Reply
  19. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much for reading, Kelli.

    It’s actually him that has inhabited the black sheep role. But just on a personal level, we are so very different.

    But I love him. He is my family.

    Reply
  20. kris

    So here’s the thing. I read this within moments of you sending me the link, and I loved it. Loved it and identified with it and just felt as though you were describing moments and tensions I have had with family members of my own.

    So I thought to myself . . . I will just come back and comment after I have taken a minute to think.

    And then a whole bunch of days passed in which this post kept coming back to me.

    As powerful writing often does.

    And it turns out I don’t have better words than I did when I first read it.

    You touched me.

    You wrote spectacularly.

    Much love to you.

    Kris

    Reply
  21. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Okay, freaky – I just remembered yesterday that you had mentioned coming back to comment and then thinking that you hadn’t. And then I logged on to see this. Freaky.

    But thank you. These words are perfect.

    Thank you.

    Love back to you.

    Angie

    Reply
  22. MamaRobinJ

    I don’t have this sort of tension in my family, but I can feel it all the same. And I know by your end that you were grateful that the day held but under no illusions that the tension was going to be gone.

    Reply
  23. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Robin, I am so glad you can’t identify with this kind of tension. It is certainly hard work.

    I wonder what it might have been like to grow up without it? Because this one person, from very, very early on, dramatically altered the dynamic of what may otherwise have been a fairly cohesive, “normal” family.

    In saying that, there are things in my life that could not exist without him, things that are a huge source of joy to me and the rest of the family.

    So, there’s that.

    Reply

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