Sunday Column: The miles between us.

There are Veeders in Texas, down there where the sun shines a little longer, a little hotter, and it doesn’t snow much.

Pops’ little brother moved his family down there when his oldest daughter and I were in the phase of our childhood where we wanted everyone to think we were twins. We wore the same biker shorts and Coca-Cola t-shirt. We put our hair up with the same scrunchie. Our skin turned the same kind of brown in the summer. We were best friends.

As soon as they unpacked their bags under that big Texas sky I begin making plans with our other cousin S who lived on a farm on the southern edge of the state to save up our 4-H money so that we might make our first plane ride to visit cousin M before she developed a new accent.

We wrote letters back and forth explaining our annoyance at our younger siblings, our mutual affection for Reba McEntire and Vince Gil, our struggle to discover any kind of athletic capabilities in our gangly bodies and, like good farm kids, of course, the weather.

At the end of each letter we reported how much money we had saved for our adventure down south.

P.S. I have saved $34.67 for TX adventure…

Forty-seven long letters and a year later, miraculously and undoubtedly with a fair amount of secret financial aid from our parents,  cousin S and I stood in a small airport in the middle of North Dakota, stuffing our wallets and snacks into our fanny packs before hugging our parents goodbye.

We were ten or eleven, on our own, and headed to Texas.

My memories of that trip were some I have kept with me throughout my life. I look back on it now and understand that it wasn’t likely either one of our families had the spare cash to help a couple kid cousins hop a plane for an extended sleepover, but somehow it was more than that.

Our parents knew it meant that time spent like this would lay the foundation for a relationship we might feel inclined to keep throughout our lives, regardless of the miles that had suddenly been put between us.

Veeder Cousins: (that’s me on the left and my twin cousin next to me. Cousin S, my TX travel companion, is that tall boy in the middle)

We spent that week exploring Ft. Worth swimming in a warm Texas lake, riding a Texas sized roller coster, telling ghost stories, sleeping in a tent in the backyard and having our first taste of BBQ brisket.

When we boarded the plane back North, cousin S and I were sun kissed and tired, more grown up and more connected to a family that would spend the next twenty years under that Texas sun.

Since that initial trip I’ve been back to visit our Texas family for weddings and singing gigs booked so that we might have an excuse to all sit on the porch together, remember, catch up and laugh a little.

It’s interesting how, wherever your family resides, a piece of it becomes yours too.

Funny how the miles don’t seem to matter when your hearts beat the same way…

Coming Home: Miles don’t matter to brothers who grew up together
by Jessie Veeder
11-3-13
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com

Texas sky…