Meet Cyndi

Oh, shit! I had quite a bit I could have written about today and now I don't have time to. I totally spaced it this morning, when I was doing actual work!

I'll have to be relatively quick about this, then: I met the last of my mom's known biological siblings that none of us had yet met in person, over lunch yesterday -- my Aunt Cyndi. She lives in a tiny town in Minnesota right by the border with Canada, called Baudette -- they have barely a thousand people, which is interesting to me because the population of Wallace, Idaho, where Mom and Bill (and, currently, Christopher) live, is just under a thousand. Okay, current estimate is 759. That town just never seems to stop shrinking but whatever.

Anyway. As the Instagram caption states, Mom was adopted. She grew up one of two -- Uncle David, who now lives in Australia, was born of Grandma and Grandpa Minor naturally. Then they adopted Mom at age two. Mom was born in Olympia -- I'm just now remembering that Cyndi said she was born in some other state and now I can't remember which. But, all four of them were put up for adoption in Olympia. Cyndi actually spent much of her childhood growing up in Seattle.

She lived in Michigan for many years -- for as long as I can remember, actually. I only learned just yesterday that she has lived in Minnesota since 2010, having gone there after one of her daughters did. That daughter would be Megan, the younger of her two; Megan and I were snail-mail pen pals for a few years when I was a teenager, and only in the past few years reconnected on Facebook. And that was because Mom and Cyndi became Facebook friends and I went looking for Cyndi's family relations after Cyndi also friended me.

Anyway! Mom called me last week, telling me Cyndi would be taking a trip out to the Pacific Northwest. Mom and Cyndi are the only one of the four biological siblings who have kept in touch for the past three decades, but Cyndi is also the only one who until now we had not met in person. She has a grandchild who lives in the Seattle area and was coming out to visit. "So I thought maybe you could meet, and you could buy her lunch or something," Mom said. I didn't care how it happened; I was just excited to finally meet her.

I met my Uncle Chris in 1986, at Grandma and Grandpa Minor's house here in Seattle as a matter of fact, in 1986. We never heard from him after that. Mom may have heard from him once or twice in the following few years but that's it. I have no more details about that at all. The other uncle, Terry, came to our house in Spokane in 1992 when I was sixteen. (I should try to find my journal entry about that.) I was witness to the moment he walked in the door and he and Mom saw each other for the first time. But after that, apparently he asked Mom to borrow money, and he was upset that she wouldn't loan him any. Mom had none to loan. This is all how Mom tells it, anyway. We never heard back from him after that either.

Cindy and Terry met some other year, out in Michigan. I think she said she never met Chris. She never met either of her biological parents either. Mom did meet their father, once. She has one picture of him and I was always struck by his high forehead -- something Mom also has. Cyndi mentioned yesterday that -- and this was the most shocking detail -- their mother was nineteen when she put her four children up for adoption. And here's something that never crossed my mind: their mother could have gotten remarried and had other children, something presumably easily done before she was even twenty. There could be way more aunts and uncles out there, and cousins and more. I guess we'll likely never know.

But! Cyndi did recently sent out to have her DNA tested. I told her I'll be very interested in the results. Because I literally have zero knowledge of half of my own genealogy.

Anyway! Mom had given me Cyndi's phone number to connect about meeting, but I messaged her on Facebook instead. We exchanged a few messages and I told her just to let me know when she knows what she can do and when. Several days passed with no more messages and I wondered if we would meet at all. Then Cyndi called me on Tuesday and asked if we could get together within the next couple of days before she headed back toward Idaho where she would meet Mom. When she said she and her granddaughter would be at Pike Place Market on Wednesday, I suggested we eat at Lowell's at the Market. She suggested we "meet at the pig" -- and I thought that was a perfect idea. She texted me yesterday when they were about ten minutes from getting there, and I got on my bike and rode down from work.

I went back and forth a little about covering lunch. There were three of us: Cyndi, another Megan who turned out not to be quite her granddaughter exactly but her grandson Dylan's fiancé (Dylan would thus be my mom's cousin; I have no idea how old he is but Megan was clearly at least ten years younger than I am); and myself. I wanted to make the gesture, so as soon as they made their order at the counter I handed over my credit card. "I was gonna get it!" Cyndi said. And I said, "Too late!" It was indeed a rather expensive lunch as a result, but it was worth it.

And, it was a perfectly pleasant lunch and visit, really never awkward at all. Karen asked me today about that, and it occurred to me then that I am at a time in my life when I am most suited to a situation like this. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have likely felt a lot more awkward than as at ease as I was over lunch yesterday.

I even asked to take that picture only moments after I met them. I figured it shouldn't surprise Cyndi since she sees how often I post photos. First I took a group selfie of all three of us but Megan offered to take a photo of Cyndi and me, resulting in the fantastic shot above. More than one person on Facebook has posted a comment about how much I look like her -- and the first time someone said it, I took another look at the picture and realized: they're right! I look more like Cyndi than I do my own mother. I really think you can see the resemblance in our faces.

It's an odd thing to realize, after I was told so many times as a kid how much I looked like my dad that I got kind of tired of it. I think that resemblance has faded over time, though. Consider this picture of Dad at age 41 in 1996, the same age I am now. I really don't look much like that. I showed that picture to Shobhit yesterday and he said, "Your bother looks like that now." Funny -- he's kind of right! And Christopher was always the one who was thought to take more after Mom in the looks department. I guess as we've grown older, our respective resemblances started to kind of swap.

I wish I had more time to write more about it, but I don't have the time. I guess I'll mention more in tomorrow's entry if I remember any other details. In any case, they were both very impressed with the meals they have -- I very much got the sense there are no particularly great restaurants where Cyndi lives, out in the middle of nowhere (although to be clear Lowell's does make objectively good food) -- and then I walked them over to Beecher's Handmade Cheese. I didn't have to tell Cyndi twice: she got right up as soon as I said I would do that. I had already told them about the cheese curd samples they have. And then we said our goodbyes, we hugged all around, and I rode my bike back to work.

I had lunch with Karen today, and received a very sweet text from Cyndi while I was there:

Matthew, just wanted to thank you again for yesterday's lunch and visit. I really enjoyed it. Keep posting interesting things on Facebook. I like your movie reviews. Talk to you later. Aunt Cyndi

So I wrote back, Thanks! It was so great to meet you! And hopefully I will again one day. :)

She replied, Yes, and maybe then I can meet your honey.

-- चार हजार एक सौ अट्ठावन --


-- चार हजार एक सौ अट्ठावन --

So that brings us to lunch today, during which Karen and I spent most of our time talking about my lunch with Cyndi. I knew this would have particular interest to Karen, given that she and Dave adopted Anita, their daughter -- who is now halfway through college, by the way. We talked a little bit about that too, but we didn't even get around to her recent trip with Dave to Oslo, which they really loved. She'll have to share pictures with me the next time we have lunch.

I suggested we share the flatbread this time instead of the expensive and rich (yet delicious) truffle macaroni and cheese, which I wanted to do to save money. But it didn't really fill either of us up and, for the first time, Karen asked if I minded ordering a second one. So, we shared two of them. Still not the heaviest lunch, but more expensive than I wanted (still cheaper than the macaroni though). Karen said she'd pay for the second flatbread pizza but when we got the bill I said it was fine just to split it in half.

It took our waitress forever to bring the check to us. It was a quarter after 1:00 before I got out of there. And then once again I rode my bike back to work.

-- चार हजार एक सौ अट्ठावन --