newest entry 2003-07-26 3:29 p.m.

The house we rented for the vacation had a guest book, in which previous vacationers recorded their goopy memories of their Outer Banks stay. Each and every one mentioned the "pool guy" and how "awesome" he was. The mystique surrounding the pool man built up til finally, on the fourth or fifth day, the pool man cometh. The air was electric.

He was an amiable fellow, looked to be an aging surfer dude with a mild smile and balding head. He cleaned the pool, and, after a brief lecture about not throwing wrappers in the pool, left.

We all exchanged looks, and blurted out, in a multi-generational symphony of sarcasm, "He's so awesome!"

So, yes, the vacation was interesting.

There isn't anything particularly North Carolina-esque about the Outer Banks--I feel like we could have had an identical vacation on the Jersey Shore. But, still it was nice being by the ocean, eating seafood, swimmin', readin' (An Appointment in Samarra was my reading material. Dawn Powell-esque jocular social satire, pretty good, but I ultimately find it hard to love a book with so little respect for its characters).

I hadn't spent so much time with my siblings since we were kids, and it was a lesson in how you can try but you can never quite escape family patterns. Within 24 hours of our arrival, I felt like a sullen teen who'd just learned the word "Booozhwah."

I will always be the baby of the family, despite the fact that there are actual babies in the family now. I'm regarded as a sort of amusing but ultimately useless eccentric, in a family of soccer moms.

I have nothing in common with my older sisters and sisters-in-law, but in order to commune with them, I either have to get on their wavelength or just accept the gulf that opens up when I try to enter the flow of relationship on my own terms. They are not interested in getting on my wavelength or learning about my life, and I'm not proud of the fact that it still hurts my feelings if I spend any time thinking about it.

My brothers are another story--I've always gotten along well with them, and we can usually find something to talk about, whether it's books or music or religion or whatever.

There was a touching moment when I came outside to the grill to fetch some hotdogs for the ladies upstairs. Monkey, my brother Red, and my brother-in-law Bruno were standing by the grill. Red said, "So how are you ladies doing upstairs?"

And I said, "Well, I don't know--I don't really know what to say to them."

And Red said, "Yeah, I didn't know what to say to these guys, either, but then I had a beer, and now we're talking about sports." (Red, Monkey, and Bruno know nothing about sports). It was an honest and humorous moment of acknowledging our total social lameness within our respective genders.

Anyway, all 6 of my nieces and nephews were there, too, and it was great hanging out and seeing them in their day-to-day mode. They range in age from 1.5 to 18, and in temperament from perpetually bratty to totally mellow.

I developed a real fondness for my 2.5 year old nephew, who was crazy about Coney and who also loved to have me read to him. He is a really sweet kid, unspoiled, vulnerable and happy.

I'll end this boring entry by telling you about the best touristy thing we saw in NC: the Wright Brothers memorial in Kill Devil Hills. It's an unassuming but very powerful tribute...

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