Hey guys, I'm going to be an aunt!! My handsome, all-growed-up brother and my beautiful and glowing sister-in-law are going to have a baby boy in July. This is still so surreal for many reasons, but they just announced the gender today so it's getting more real. Although all three of my cousins on my dad's side of the family have procreated prolifically, my brother's baby will be the first on my mom's side of the family. My brother is the youngest on both sides, and it's been clear for a while that any grandchildren were probably going to come from him. My brother and I have always been friendly but not that close, partly because we haven't lived in the same town since I left for college. We've gotten to know each other better as adults, and especially lately, it seems that we've had a better connection during our occasional phone conversations. But I'll admit that I still think of him as my little brother. He's still the grubby-fingered, chubby-cheeked, smelly and embarrassing little brother in my mind. But he's been married for more than 4 years to a woman I've enjoyed getting to know, he's been a pastry chef for some cool restaurants, he has owned a home for more than a year, which they've been fixing up for a while, and now he and his wife are going to be parents. And they're going to be great parents - creative and fun, responsible, so loving, and they'll do everything they can to give this child whatever he needs. So it's time for me to paint a different picture of my brother, one as an adult and a professional and a family man. And just so you know, I'm going to be the best aunt ever, even though I have to do it from many miles away. That kid is going to appreciate how cool science is, dammit!
It's not just the baby that has brought joy lately. My mom and her companion, a man she has shared her life with for 8 years, are getting married this year in a big hippie celebration. I'm so happy that she has found happiness and that she has a great guy to hold her hand through the good and the bad. I hope she doesn't feel that the baby has stolen her thunder, because all wonderful things in life deserve great celebration, and she deserves this joyous celebration of love in her own life.
As for me, just toodling along. I bought my plane ticket to France, fingers crossed that my job would not fall victim to the government's purse-tightening. So far, I'm safe, but I'm going to go to France no matter what, because the fates have decided that this is my year, and I'm not letting political nonsense get in the way of my dream. Unfortunately it's a shorter trip than I would prefer (really anything shorter than 2 months is too short) so I'm trying to prioritize. On the list: a few days in Paris, the ancient cave paintings in Dordogne, a few chateaux, some cheering as the Tour de France cyclists whiz past, a trip to the coast, some serious culture (art, food, wine, music), and if I can manage it, at least a train ride through the Alps. Too much for only 10 or 11 days, but I'm determined to make it work. Alas, my special someone cannot join me on this trip, but we're good at taking mini-vacations together, so a visit together to the City of Love will have to wait for now.
So yes, this is shaping up to be a banner year so far, and it's only March. I've been tiptoeing around any real celebration of all this good fortune because for so many years, my family has had small spurts of good fortune, followed by long spans of exhausting challenges and can't-we-just-get-a-break fist-shaking at the Powers-That-Be. The joke was not to say too loudly that we had some extra money because then something would surely break. We've never done things conventionally and it's taken us a while to get our bearings. But the past couple of years have been better. Calmer. Not free of challenges, because that's just a part of being alive, but free of the ridiculous challenges that threaten our sanity yet again. More importantly, truly good things have happened, and actually stuck, finally. Life has settled down for us, and it's about time. Thirteen may be an unlucky number, but for an unlucky family, 2013 has been pretty great. I'm so truly thankful for the peace of mind we all have, and I hope every year is filled with such happiness, even without milestone events to celebrate.