The entire O’Malley family, minus only a few members (and we missed them) basically commandeered an inn in the woods in New Hampshire this last weekend. We were the only guests there. There were over 40 of us. Aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, boyfriends, second cousins. We were so out in the middle of nowhere that at night you could see the glimmering arm of the Milky Way above us. We took up the entire dining room at mealtimes. We hiked. We threw a football around. We sat around the campfire talking and singing (always singing). It felt like every single person had brought some kind of musical instrument. At one point I glanced around and my niece Lucy was holding a triangle. A triangle. Someone had brought a triangle! Along with all the laughter, all the conversation, and also a couple of celebrations (my sister Jean’s birthday, and a presentation to cousin Mike of a watercolor Mum had down of the whole family – rendering all of us as Fisher Price little people), we sang. We sang the entire weekend. We have a musical family. Songwriters, performers, a classical guitarist, singers. It was a beautiful experience. We are all still high from it.
Cousin Liam and sister Siobhan leading the entire family in a sing-along of “Hey, Jude”. I had a moment while it was happening where I thought, “Okay. Life literally does not get any better than this.”
Cousin Matt is a classical guitarist. I have never heard him play. I think that was the case for a lot of us there. He played three songs for us, and it was riveting. The applause was like thunder. Love.
We had been asking Regina to sing. Regina is a soprano of the highest order. She is an actress, and many of us who have also gone into that field remember how much her career influenced us, as in: “Oh. This is a valid job that you can have.” There was no mystique to it. Just hard work. She’s been on Broadway, she’s done everything. She was basically refusing to do a solo during our jamboree. Okay, fine. Cousin Liam, who was our maestro, started “I Will Survive”, and the whole room went apeshit. To see my uncle Tom, grey-haired and manly, bellowing, “But I spent oh so many nights thinkin’ how you did me wrong, and I grew STRONG” made me so happy I can’t even tell you. As the song was reaching its climax, suddenly Regina stepped forward (I was sitting below her on the couch with her daughter, my cousin Emma), and blasted us with a long high note that felt like it went on forever and still makes me laugh when I think about it. This photo is by Emma. We were crying with laughter.
When people say to me, as they often do, “You have the best family”, I can tell you one thing: I don’t argue.