During my trip to Maryland I stayed with two cousins: Renee Camus, my maternal cousin and Dawn Fredericks, my paternal [step]cousin. You need to understand that for me, the Kellogg family is not merely my stepfamily, they are my family just as much as any blood family. So it is just to spare you, dear reader, confusion while reading this, that I ever refer to Ray or any Kellogg (or Frederick or any other name) as "step" anything.
For the first three days I was with Renee and her husband Alex Bradley in Adelphi, Maryland. Renee was a very good friend to me when we were kids and put up with a lot more than anyone else probably would. And in the end the test of time won out. She's still my beloved cousin and friend, and even though I still kind of drove her nuts a little, the friendship and closeness and childhood memories are there. And like any good 12-stepper (I'm not, but the analogy is good), I made my apologies for the bad behaviour and bad things that I did when we were kids.
Renee is two and a half years my junior. She is taller - about 5'8" - and more slender than I. She has a funny look, though, from slouching, something she's done all our childhood. She's still a great dancer, though, and at any given moment with a standing position she'll began to dance. Her musical, dance and movie/telly acumen is incredible. She's more apt to watch the telly than I am, which is funny (I thought I watched a lot and Luis was outrageous, but it is more prevalent than I realised to watch a lot of television. Goodness knows, the telly folks make it appealing to a huge audience so there really is something for everyone.
Renee still does a lot of "baby talk" but oddly enough, she feels as I do: this is not good for babies. I, however, have a much lower tolerance for any baby talk than most, and she liked to talk to her cats and Alex that way. He doesn't seem to mind and the cats aren't learning to speak so why it should grate so on me is just my hang-up. It is meant to be cute and endearing. But I always thought that she'd grow out of it. However, she's happy and that is all the matters. She doesn't need to put up with my dislike of it, and, to her credit, she told me more than once in her own way to bugger off about it. I applaud that. Always stand up for yourself.
When we were kids she did not stand up for herself very much and of course me being me, I ran all over her with cleats on. That is not nice, but there it is. She was a much more passive person and I am an aggressive person, so the dynamics of the relationship were very different. I'm happy that she no longer takes my shit; she won't take other people's shit, either, and that is never a bad thing.
One observation that really stood out to me each and everyday was how much Renee and Alex clearly love each other. I mean, really, clearly, are in love. They've been together a pretty long time and married in 2004 (it was a beautiful glorious wedding). But just watching how they were when we went out and did the Faire and hanging with their friends, John, Tom, Gina and Izolda, I was delighted! I'm so happy that they are so happy. They have demanding jobs and work hard but they relax and play hard too and they are so very happy with each other.
I can't ask for more than that for my wonderful cousin.
Alex is a delight. He has a great sense of humour and likes a lot of the same things I do; jigsaw puzzles, games (they both love games - I should find out where they get them), some of the same shows I like. He is very intelligent but to be frank about it, none of us would be with anyone not fully up to par intelligence wise! I may not always like my family but we are intelligent - a big plus! Alex is more than just qualified. He's an excellent addition to the family. God knows he's a saint to put up with us! And he even put up with me as a passenger and that is asking a lot. I'm a horrendous passenger.
On Monday night, I travelled 35 miles to Crofton, Maryland to visit with Dawn Fredericks, Phyllis' daughter. She is 20 days older than me. She is tall also, but looks tall; she is very athletic and holds herself up very straight and has a long muscular yet lean figure. (She doesn't think so and I know what she means, but she is too hard on herself about it - she looks very fit!) She has very long, straight, thick brown hair and those light eyes that are a hallmark of the Kellogg gene pool. When she laughs, I laugh, too - the reknowned Kellogg laugh is in her as well her mother and Ray. As far I can recall, David (my younger cousin by two years, I think), has that same laugh. It is delightful and infectious.
Dawn is an athletic trainer, but in her past laugh did graphics art design. Ironically, we all have - Alex does it currently, I did it in the mid-90s for Miller Harness and also a little for Meta4 Digital Design, and Dawn did it while living in southern California. Strange, isn't it? Now she is about to embark on being a regional Aquatics Manager for Bally's in Maryland. She went through some difficulties earlier this month and we spent a lot of time just talking. I always thought that when we were kids we could have been good friends but distance and the difficulty of my childhood got in the way. I made my apologies for that, too.
I think that this was the beginning of much closer relationship than ever before and I am very much looking forward to it. I'm hoping she will be staying over one night just after Thanksgiving.
Very opposite people, but both my family and both my friends.