For Caroline and Carlos
My cousin Caroline is my modern day Mary Ann Singleton. She came to San Francisco on vacation and found her life waiting for her there. Caroline fell in love with the city, went home to Michigan, packed up and moved. She and I are kindred spirits in a way- she nearly repeating my own journey to Los Angeles of twenty years ago. We are the exceptions- of the nigh on thirty first cousins of our generation, we are the two that fled the furthest from the rust belt town of our youth. After eight years in the Bay, she is much a part of San Francisco as a cable car.
Cabbages and Kings, my Father calls it- the wanderlust, the need to go out into the world to find the life that fits. It's not easy to leave the security of home and family, but for some- it is a necessity. And unlike the poem, we've thus far evaded being devoured by any walruses and carpenters that loiter on mythical seashores.
Last night I sat in a pew in the Swedenborgian Church, a lovely old stone structure with a hand hewn wooden roof. We watched under candlelit chandeliers as Caroline walked down the aisle in a vintage ivory lace and satin dress to be married to the love of her life, Carlos. They both looked radiant. I represented the western side of the family, along with her brother Robert from Boise - we call him the runner up in our wanderlust competition. Her mother, sister Christine, and brother Stephen all made the trek from the midwest to be part of the celebration.
We remarked at the reception just how far we have come- both geographically and emotionally, from the rust belt of our childhood. Although it permeates us and helps define us, it does not control us. Her life is in San Francisco, just as mine is in Southern California. We both traveled to where our lives told us they needed us to go, but the family bond is still strong. We are of each others kind, and always will be, even though we followed the voices that spoke of Cabbages and Kings.