Thursday November 22 2012


8:15 a.m. I’m up and on the road. North Carolina see my dad for Thanksgiving.


Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice. A shot of Apple Cider Vinegar.


Driving on 58 and then on I-95. The beautiful autumn scenery accompanies my peripheral vision. Talking on the phone with mom for over an hour – on the bigger grander issues in life – about equipping ourselves against inconsistencies and fallacies – understanding our influence on the people around us and how powerful that can be in determining, in some cases, life or death.

And here I am in Goldsboro. The trip only took three hours. I pull up into the driveway of my dad’s house and there he is already standing there. Of course he comments about my purple car, “The Purple People Eater!” 


A bunch of months ago the daughter of my dad’s wife Patty, from Honduras, moved in with them. I meet my stepsister for the first time. Her name is Jennifer and she is sixteen, a sprightly young gal who’s still working on her “Inglés”. We all hop into the car and drive to Clayton. We’re having Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt Pansy’s husband’s mother’s house. She’s a whopping 93 years old, healthy and British. Her house is historic, just a tad bit older than her, over a hundred years old. Exploring the ancient drafty architecture – complete with an exhausted upright piano slightly out of tune, space heaters from the 50’s, a hefty ping pong table, a working stove from 1946, and a big book collection – it’s been well kept up and there’s a beautiful spirit of love and warmth here.

Gathered around the table for an authentic Thanksgiving meal including all the essential dishes: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Collard Greens, Stuffing, Green Beans, Butter Beans, Deviled Eggs, Cranberry Sauce, and Dinner Rolls. Despite my pescetarian diet I partake in everything. The sound of clinking plates and glasses as dinner talk ensues. Scarlet, my aunt’s dog, scurries underneath the table hoping for scraps. My aunt discusses the unfortunate health problems with her dog and explains, “She’s my buddy—she’s my girlfriend in North Carolina cause I don’t have one so she’s my girlfriend for me. I talk to her like I would a girlfriend. She’s my company. She’s a good dog.”

Afterwards, my dad, Jennifer, and I venture outside and hang out on the colossal-size front porch with a chair swing. I pluck away on the guitar singing a few familiar tunes for my dad and I to sing along as well as whatever songs I’ve been working on lately. For some reason my voice is hoarse ever since early this morning and I’m forced to half-whisper the melodies. The weather outside is wonderful – the sun glaring down on the floorboards and providing heat to our bodies despite the brisk cool air.

Eventually, we leave and drive about an hour or so away to another family-related gathering. On the way. Jennifer and I get anxious in the backseat. I crank up some tunes on my iPod that both her and Patty can bop to.


I observe the father-daughter relationship between Jennifer and my dad. It’s kind of strange at first because I’m supposed to be his only child but I kind of like the idea of having a stepsister. Jennifer leans forward and fiddles with my dad’s grey head of hair turning it into a mini-mohawk as a joke. She then transforms my hair in the same way.

Me: “Like father like son!”


We arrive in Grimesland where my aunt Deloris lives. Inside the cozy house sipping on Coffee and having Pumpkin Pie. Vicki, a cousin I’ve only met once or twice in my life is here with her husband and two lively young boys. Throwing the football around with them and Jennifer outside. I’m the big kid and proud to be the instigator of holiday fun. One of the boys is super talkative and carries around his iPad blaring pop tunes. At some point I get coerced into strumming some Christmas songs on guitar for a sing-a-long.

The evening dwindles down. My dad and a few of the fellows pay close attention to the Redskins-Cowboys football game on television. While waiting I sit on the couch with Jennifer flipping through the pages of a Webster’s Dictionary pointing out words for her to learn.


We leave and head back home. The drive is long. But this is quite normal in North Carolina where most anyone you know is always a “drive” away rather than around the corner, at least that’s always how I experienced visits to this state. There’s a quickly growing kinship between Jennifer and I, a sibling kind of relationship that I lost growing up when my real sister died in ‘91. It’s kind of nice especially since she’s a teenager and I feel I can have that big brotherly influence on her.


Finally making it home. In the guest/office room I help Jennifer upload some select Spanish hip-hop songs onto her phone. With the Google Translate tab opened we’re able to understand each other in conversation a little better. She types in questions about me and I type back answers to her. 


Snacking on some Popcorn that turns out to be expired and therefore plastic-like. I revert to a few slices of Sweet Potato Pie.

I’m terribly beat from the whole day. Sleep 2 a.m.

[i] All images by me.

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