My first cousin is 39, married, and has two little girls. My first cousin is as close to me as anyone I’ve met, in a sharp self-righteous way, though perhaps more serious and less prone to bouts of crippling empathy.
I feel like a weird plus-one to her family, like an addition to a house that matches but you can tell was built on a few years later because the siding doesn’t sync up one hundred percent. But it was nice. The girls sat on my lap and across the span of beige stucco houses was a cornfield. Beyond the cornfield was a clearing, beyond the clearing a hill, and beyond that could have been the ghost of James Earl Jones.
We went to visit friends of my cousin’s and laid out beside to their pool. It was in-ground and shaped like a tortured kidney bean with a growth on the side for a steamy hot tub. The girls kicked up water and through their legs over rim, a headstand with training wheels. We sipped champagne and watched them spin and jump and cup the water and flick it with their miniature fingers and thumbs.
Another couple came over with a baby. My cousin held it until it spit up carrot on her arm. The girls started fighting. My head started throbbing. My cousin’s husband took a nap on the couch while she gathered up the girls’ towels and goggles. We packed up the car and drove away quietly.
I thought about New York and I thought about the cornfields. I thought about children and babies and crossed my legs tighter. Maybe I would just think about the cornfields.