At the age of 61, my aunt Ro remains one of the most eclectic and strangely inspiring people in my life. A true adventurer whose tribulations have brought her from the brink of insanity to Mexico City and back to New Jersey, her persona maintains the spirit of a comedian, the liberation of a hippy, the resolve of an intellectual, and the passion of a true artist. Engaging in conversation with her is a mixed bag though—no matter how you begin, you end up baffled. Yet, despite her ability to exhaust me, I admire her, and on occasion, delight in the innocent mindless prattle we often engage in.
Between writing, working, composing music, learning Japanese and having a meager social life, I can barely remember taking a shit. So, it came as no surprise that I had forgotten to touch base with my family back home. When I finally did connect with my aunt Ro and grandmother on Skype, our conversation took on the familiar pattern of absurdity that has become her trademark:
“We thought you were in jail?” She spat at me in panic. The inflection in her voice coupled with the gravity of her tone caused me to worry that, perhaps, a warrant for my arrest existed without my knowledge.
“Why would I be in jail?” I shot back, unconvinced of my own innocence.
“Because, why didn’t you answer our e-mails or messages? “
“Right, I understand that, but why would the explanation for that automatically be that I was in jail?”
She seemed almost disappointment that logic had not brought me to this same explanation.“Well, we couldn’t imagine why you didn’t answer us.”
At this point I could see that their relief was real and was enough to settle the matter, so I gave up on logic.
“Uh I’m exhausted from my antics.” She said with a heavy sigh.
“Yea me too.”
“Have you ever been whale watching off the boats in Providence, Rhode Island?” Her question was expressed in such a way that implied her next sentence to be an offering that would find us both on a boat the next day.
“Um, no…have you?
“Yes, it was wonderful.” She said, flashing her biggest smile.
I was confused. “That’s great but what does this have to do with anything?”
“It just crossed my mind”.