I received a phone call a little over a week ago. It was Mashia, Timile’s first cousin who lives in Buffalo. She was reaching out to let me know that she was taking the train from East Canada (that’s what I call Buffalo) to New York for her daughter, Morgan’s ninth birthday.
Cydney and I haven’t returned to Buffalo in a little over three years. The last time we saw anyone from Timile’s family-with the exception of her parents-was at as wedding in Maryland in the summer of 2013. It has been on the to-do list; there has just been more than a lot going on, so making the trip never happened.
I genuinely love the family in Buffalo. As much as possible, they made a very rough time in my new family’s life just a little easier. Sure, there were a few hiccups and an altercation or two; but shit happens. They have always treated me as if I am blood and not just Timile’s boyfriend or Cydney’s father. I can’t say the same for Timile’s parents. If my “in-laws” were to ask me why do I keep in contact with-or visit the family up north-that would be the reason why.
Last Friday, Cyd overhears a conversation in which I state that I am taking her with me to Manhattan. She associates our trips to the city with seeing someone else, so she was beyond excited when she got wind of this. The whole day, she would jump around saying that we’re going to the city to see a certain person…hell, she said it the whole way there. No matter how many times I said “No, we’re going to the city to see your cousins from your mom’s side of the family,” she had her mind made up that we were doing something else.
We met up with Mashia, Morgan, their older cousin Kim, and Kim’s daughter, Ari. Mashia and Timile were first cousins at the Sheraton Inn on 51st St and 7th Ave. Their grandmother and Kim’s mother are sisters. They’re a big family, yet very close-knit. It was refreshing to see them. They were familiar faces I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Cydney didn’t remember them; but everyone remembered Cydney. We briefly caught up on life and such before heading to dinner.
At one point, Kim paused and asked me “Do you have a girlfriend?” I found that to be a very interesting question because while I am well aware that life goes on and I’m expected to do so, it feels a little weird talking to Timile’s family about another woman. Well, that’s part of it. The reason why that question was struck a chord with me was because the last time I saw her at the wedding, she was one of the people encouraging me to get up and attempt to catch the garter, signifying that I could be the next one to get married.
While eating, Kim, Mashia, and I shot the shit while the three girls played. We talked about how the family was doing, Timile’s mother, and without realizing it, we were there for nearly three hours. It didn’t feel like it.
I really enjoyed watching Cydney interact with her cousins. For starters, I remember when all three were born, because I’ve been around for almost a decade. I saw all of them as little kids-babies at that-when we lived in Buffalo, so seeing everyone growing up is endearing. Also, it is very often that I get to see Cyd be a girl with other little girls. That always makes me smile.
Morgan and Cydney both look like their mothers, so I know as much as I was taken aback, so were Mashia and Kim. I could see Mashia looking at the two of them and think to herself “I remember when…” Cydney and I aren’t the only ones who lost someone they loved in December of 2011. Since I don’t see the others who were directly affected so often, times like this are a reminder.
On the forty minute drive home, I kept thinking about our visit. Seeing Timile’s family is something else that feels familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. I know the faces, voices, and even the personalities involved. But how I know them seems like such a long time ago. I remember being in all of these places and life being an incredibly dark place. None of that is who I am, now. It’s bittersweet.
I was happy to see everyone. I don’t want to make any promises; but I almost promise that Cydney and I will return to Buffalo sometime this summer.