It’s September. I should know better.
Perhaps it was the one-day shift from summer to fall that happened last Saturday in Seattle, but September caught me off guard again. The melancholy has me wrapped in its fuzzy, warm cloak. I’ve become reclusive and have found a new addiction, but more on that later.
It could be the prospect of turning 50 this month, as well as having what might have been my 25th wedding anniversary, something I only just realized. 25 years. Damn. I had to do the math in my head. Could it really be?
For my 50th, my family was quite insistent that I have a big ol’ party. Since I have carved my weird Canadian niche in this US town with my “Boxing Day” parties, I figured I’d keep the Commonwealth theme alive and have a proper 50th Jubilee. Because then I don’t have to call it a birthday, right?
And yes, I plan on wearing a tiara. Thank you for asking.
Part of the 50th birthday demand from my mother is that I scan through my last 50 years of photos and come up with the most embarrassing. She specifically asked for “the one with the snake.”
Last night, I started going through them and although I laughed at many, the whole exercise made me feel sad and happy at once. On one hand, there aren’t that many photos of me, since I am usually the one taking them. On the other, the ones that I do have of myself are usually me laughing or goofing around with one or both of the kids.
My mom also asked for photos of me with Jim and me with Arron. Pulling out the ones with Jim was easy and made me smile. I avoided the ones of Arron. Should I include the shots of just Arron, since that is mostly what I have? Or do I have to scan new ones of the both of us which means opening actual physical photo albums (if you are under 30, you won’t understand this reference, sorry). And although this month will also mark 14 years sans Arron, I can’t quite bring myself to do it.
This surprises me. Yeah, turns out pulling out old photos of you and your dead husband on the occasion of your 50th birthday, 25th wedding anniversary and 14th deathiversary might actually be a little bit emotional, Ab. Go figure.
And thus I retreat inwards. Have I mentioned that I have an addiction?
Yes, my name is Abigail Carter and I am addicted to Ancestry.com.
Not some *little* addiction suited to the casual family historian, but hours, hours! spent (wasted?) behind the computer clicking through years. I now find myself in the time of William the Conquerer. I think I might be related to him. I suspect that is a sentence you will hear from any serious Ancestry.com addict.
“I think I was related to [place any member of the Royal family in history here].”
It’s only now dawned on me that my new addiction and my September melancholy might actually be related (ha! Did you catch that genealogical reference?).
In some respects, this genealogy thing stems from a curiosity to find out where I came from, but I am keenly aware of one failing of Ancestry.com that I think illuminates my other motivation.
Mapping. Now here’s a great opportunity for you Ancestry.com developers. Here’s what I want: I want you to take all the places that the various branches of my family come from (England mostly) and plot them on a map. Show migrations, years, names, etc.
Here’s why: I think on some subliminal level, I am somehow trying to link my family and Arron’s. Irrational of course. But I can’t help finding great pleasure in imagining our connection in the distant past would perhaps give the present some context. Some cute (royal?) princess brushing past a handsome Viking perhaps? OK, perhaps I have also been reading too many Outlander novels (my other secret addiction).
Grief is so freakin irrational sometimes, I grant you.
I don’t think my connecting the dots is limited to Arron though. I want to do Jim’s family too. His dad’s family is from Wales. Apparently, so were some distant relatives of mine… Can we say “two Vikings?” Yes, please!
The linkages are what fascinate me. The realization (again) that we are all connected. I don’t know what it all means or why this is important to me now as I turn 50 and watch another phantom wedding anniversary pass me by.
But here I am. Suddenly a 50th Jubilee party doesn’t sound so far fetched. Did I mention that King David I of Scotland was my 30th great-grandfather?
Facing September in a tiara will it a whole lot more palatable, wouldn’t you agree?