My cousin Lauren and I met when I was nine and she was seven. On one blustery February evening in 1989, Uncle Rick brought his future wife and her two young daughters (Lauren and Jessica, then just five), over to our house to meet his sister and family.
At nine I was highly sophisticated. I knew exactly how to entertain my two young guests while leaving the adults to chat in the living room.
"You guys want to play Barbies?" I asked.
And just like that, a new family was born.
Throughout the years, Laur and I were often the best of friends, at times fierce competitors. I was jealous when she had the better toys (I believe she had all of the New Kids on the Block dolls, for JC's sake); she would tattle on me for the slightest infractions (Taking Jess around the block on my banana-seat bike, is not a crime, GOD!). We would amuse ourselves for hours dressing up and performing Mariah Carey's, "Vision of Love." We had countless sleepovers in which we'd typically watch (and cry during) A League of Their Own, then we'd lay awake singing "This Used to Be My Playground," which, you know. Awesome.
One Christmas season we agonized over Magic Nursery Babies. These dolls were special; after purchasing, you'd find out the baby's gender (or if you had multiple births) by opening an envelope inside the packaging. We simply could not GO ON unless we had these beautiful creatures in our permanent toy collections. I received my doll and she was glorious. And then a call from my cousin - she had received the Magic Nursery Baby Twins!
Blinding rage. Burning envy.
Eventually, we pushed the toys aside when we discovered boys. We made it through adolescence as the best of friends. I had never really had a sister; Laur was it.
But quicker than the New Kids became NKOTB and then fell off the scene completely and spectacularly: we were grown-ups.
I was in my White Plains, NY office in May when I ducked into the ladies' bathroom to take Lauren's call. This time, she was having, like, an ACTUAL baby.
Yesterday, I attended her baby shower. Baby shower! Little Riley Olivia will be here at the end of January, and I will be a first time Aunt HomeValley (yeah, I know not technically, but we're unconventional here).
"You should see all the stuff they got," I told J when I arrived home last night. "It's amazing! Maybe we should have a baby soon." Now I recognize that "for the stuff" is not the best reason to procreate, so it's birth control and B vitamins for me for many, many years to come.
An Open Letter to the Newest Addition:
We all can't wait to meet you! We already know you will be awesome. Confidentially, I always knew your mama would be first to make one of you. Also, the fact that Mom is two years younger than Aunt HomeValley, and having you very very soon, makes Aunt HomeValley's Mommy very aaaannnngggrrrryyyy. So thanks for that, Ri. XOXO!
All my love,