Lum: Déjà vu all over again
My summer Aspen family back in the ’70s and ’80s consisted of Nancy, who came to play viola in the festival orchestra with her three kids, Mark, Bert and Sarah; Squeek, who came out to play piano for Ballet West with her two kids, Lesley and Eric; and Bruce, a local writer who left for winters in Baja. My daughters Hillery and Skye were about the same age as the other kids, and all of us ran in a pack until the leaves turned.
I think it was Bert who came up with the idea of a family reunion. Between marriages, divorces, relationships and babies, the numbers had swollen to 22, scattered between Alaska and Brooklyn, something of a logistical nightmare to put together.
Luckily they started planning last winter, because the only time they could settle upon was the week of the Fourh of July — Aspen’s high tide.
Bert and Eric got dibs on a three-bedroom house down the street from me, sleeping seven — some stayed at Nancy’s house (bought in the ’70s), some with me (fleeing from my books on CD), and several had reserved rooms at the Mountain Chalet (a favorite).
Being all together for the first time ever was a surreal experience. Nancy, Squeek and I, the old ladies now, our kids older now than we were then, renewing their friendships after many years and a whole new batch squealing with laughter in the woods, keeping their secrets, sounding like our kids used to sound. It was like watching a movie on fast forward. It was not that each generation cloned the next, but that we were a growing unit beamed back to the same place at the same time.
For six days, there were parties and dinners and one-on-one get-togethers — so many people, so little time.
A feast on Nancy and Roger’s deck featured a 35-pound king salmon caught by Bert in Alaska a few days prior (he and his wife River are career wildlifers). The salmon was 31/2 feet long, lying on towels spread upon the table, all of us gawking at Bert, who must have had a very special knife for this procedure, demonstrated how to halve, de-bone, filet and cut into steaks this gift from the sea that probably would cost $40 per pound in Aspen, with a flair and expertise worthy of a featured gig at the Food & Wine Classic.
The salmon was great, but the reuniting was even better. Memories, memories, memories, getting to meet Squeek’s grandkids for the first time, Eric and his wife Gretchen, who I last saw at Mark’s wedding to Rebecca.
In 1970, I hung a large piece of orange poster board on the inside of my pantry door titled, “MEMORY BOARD — Nancy, Su, Squeek et al for Menopausal Mind Jogging.”
We already had started to forget what had happened when, so we kept a log of events, year by year until 1982. “Check the board!” “Put it on the board!”
Just before her plane left, Lesley came over with her computer, and in a two-hour flurry of deciphering and typing, she got the whole thing down, ready for explanations and additions from Nancy and Squeek. Like, what in the world did “Roaring Fork Down Harvey” mean?
Su Lum is a longtime local who was socially saturated. Her column appears Wednesdays in The Aspen Times. Reach her at email@example.com.
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