Monday, December 24, 2007

Auntie Teresa in Three Acts

This is my Aunt Teresa. Last night I went to a family party and realized I ought to write a post about this woman. Let's just say that Teresa is unique...and loud...and opinionated...and a teaser of the mean variety. But she's my aunt and you can't pick your family and frankly I kind of like the woman in all her eccentricity. So I decided to share three memories involving Teresa that would hopefully sum up the love/hate relationship I've had with this woman throughout my life.

ACT I--"And She Went Wee Wee Wee All the Way to Disneyland"
When I was six, Aunt Teresa and Uncle Willy (my dad's brother), loaded myself and two other girls she babysat in the back of their Subaru and drove us to California and Disneyland. In a tiny Utah town called Scipio we stopped to use the restroom at the local 7-11 and maybe grab a drink. I and my six-year-old bladder were quite filled up from the last pit stop and I had on a pair of overalls that I couldn't get off without assistance. As I stood dancing and asking for Teresa's help with my overalls in the middle of the "highway robbery" chips and dip/travel sized aspirin aisle, I had an accident. And by accident, I mean flood...and by flood I mean who knew my bladder held that much? The circumference of the puddle kept growing until it spread out across the aisle in a yellow sea. I was certain all pride or ego I had left was lapping on its yellow shores. I felt relieved and awful at once. Teresa refused to clean ME up until I cleaned IT up. The 7-11 employee insisted that cleaning it up was not a big deal. Teresa, on the other hand, insisted that I should be given the mop. The mop that was at least three feet taller than I was. I remember the distinct taste of humiliation as I mopped up my accident. I vowed then and there that this woman was my mortal enemy, Disneyland or not, and I would seek revenge one day.

Act II: "The Salt Block"
This story is family legend. Teresa's favorite about me. Memorial Day. I was 12. I had earned myself a spot in Teresa's back seat again. Destination: A cabin in Southern Montana on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park. The area was absolutely beautiful and I immediately understood the logic behind her yearly journey up here. City girl that I was, this wasn't the kind of "getting out" to which I was accustomed. I loved it. The area was stocked with wildlife. Moose, bears, eagles. The cabins we stayed in had a clearing with a giant salt block which attracted the moose and deer in the area. The first morning, Teresa dared me to walk out to the Moose which was enjoying its morning ceremony at the salt block. (I said she was a teaser, right). The moose looked so harmless out there that I slipped on my shoes and headed for the spot in my nightgown. Teresa laughed on the porch until the moose noticed me staring at it. I'm not sure how close I got, but it was too close because the thing seemed suddenly wary, possibly a bit unhappy. Teresa called me back, laughing all the while. I escaped unscathed. If my mother knew, she would have croaked.

Act III: "Nothing in Moderation"
During college, Teresa and Willy headed for Europe to visit my sister living there at the time. She needed her condo and her dog, Cassidy, watched. For two weeks I moved in with my best friend, Alice. And this is when I got an adult perspective on the workings of Teresa's mind. Beyond the over-the-top 4th of July decor which found its way into every nook and cranny of their home, beyond the limitless collection of DVDs, many unopened, beyond the EIGHT wind chimes that would clang mercilessly at night as the mouth of the canyon 1/8th of a mile away released the wind, beyond the Smorgasborg array of doggie snacks available for Cassidy, let me first of all describe "The Beanie Room." First of all, Utah summers are hot--melt your face off, singe the backs of your thighs on the leather car upholstery hot. And July's in Utah are hotter. Teresa's condo had only two window a/c units. One of which was located in "The Beanie Room," as it came to be known. A second bedroom which housed the computer and Beanie Babies--Beanie Babies in large rubbermaid bins, Beanie Babies displayed on Beanie Shelves along the walls. Big Beanies, Little Beanies, Beanies, Beanies, Beanies. It was a little frightening, in fact, as Alice and I lay on the empty carpet basking in the cool 68 degrees pulsing out of the window unit, staring up at the years of collected Beanie Babies. I'd been threatened before Teresa left for Europe that she knew exactly how many Beanie Babies she had and that if I were to take one, she would know. Because apparently hippie-esque college students obsessed with feminism and Freud had a hankering for Beanies?

Was she a kid at heart? Probably. Was this a bit too much? Definitely. Some women like Anthropologie, Teresa prefers The Disney Store. But I guess this sums up the psyche of Teresa. She doesn't know moderation and she is slightly childlike in her loud, unabashed demeanor. She is also sometimes generous, sometimes stingy and about as contradictory as the next guy. This winter she cut out scarves, bought hats and gloves for all 65 kindergarteners she works with. 65! She is a woman who could never have children of her own yet she has surrounded herself by children my entire life--nieces and nephews, babysitting, volunteering to read to kindergarteners at a local elementary, playground aide. Faults and strengths aside, this is my Aunt Teresa in all her loud, embarrassing, over-the-top-ness. I love her. Even when she drives me nuts!

1 comment:

Alice said...

oh Auntie Teresa. She is definitely one in a million! Except, I totally see "other aunt Teresas" all the time :)

Housesitting with Cassidy was definitely a good time. The beenie room, the doggy treats, and those dang windchimes! Moderation? Not her!

yummm remember how the best slush stand is right by her house? I miss summer!