A Big House
My dad grew up in a big house. We actually called it "the big house" when I was little. Throughout my childhood it was a gathering place. Almost every Christmas, and sometimes in the summer, my mom and dad would pack my brother and me in the car, and drive us eight hours through the Arizona desert to Tucson, before turning south. Our destination was the small copper mining town of Cananea, Sonora, just an hour or so south of the Arizona border.
The house itself was built over 100 years ago, but my family has lived in it for about 60. Four generations of Durazos have passed through its doors. In fact, I believe every single person in our family has crossed its threshold at some point in their lives. I remember the house vividly. And though it's changed somewhat throughout the years—a renovation here, some new furniture there—it has mostly endured.
Though it's been over a decade since I spent Christmas there, I still remember the house every December. My aunts and uncles would decorate a huge tree in the living room, and my family of about 30 or so would pile presents under it. I remember early mornings, the smell of coffee brewing, babies laughing (or crying), and the crinkle of wrapping paper. I remember looks of excitement when, occasionally, snow would fall on Christmas morning while we were opening presents, before heading into the kitchen for breakfast.
And even more than the house itself, I remember what it felt like to be surrounded by family. There were a lot of cousins my age at the time. It was a time before phones and tablets. Though there were TVs in the house, they were small, and a strictly communal affair. We also had a big yard, and lots of rooms with big beds for jumping around, and getting hurt, and crying, and laughing about it afterwards. I remember my cousins. I remember hide and seek, and blind man's bluff, endless games of monopoly, playing football in the yard, and shooting hoops in the patio.
Until the summer of 2015, I hadn't seen a lot of my family in over eight years. My job and my constant moving around made it difficult to make it to weddings, births, christmases, graduations, and more. I missed a lot of important moments, and I missed a lot of people. So on July fourth of 2015, I decided enough was enough, and that even if it was only for a couple of days (which it was), I would head back to the big house to visit whoever was there.
My family, I shouldn't be surprised, responded by organizing what amounted to an impromptu reunion of sorts. People came out from around the U.S. and Mexico, from hundreds of miles away, to converge on Cananea. And after all these years, after all the changes, after so many people grew up, or grew old, we all felt right at home. And I saw so many of my nieces and nephews playing, jumping around, getting hurt, crying, and laughing about it afterwards.
That, to me, is family.
So the next time you have the chance, document the spaces and people that make you feel at home. You never know when you might unexpectedly not see them for a while.