My mom knocked on the metal screen door. I was scared at who might answer the door. When we went to a relative’s house it was usually my tall gruff-voiced Aunt Irene’s house in Hacienda Heights, or Aunt Millie’s small condominium in Corona del Mar. By the age of six, I had never been to this old dilapidated house, which seemed spidery and haunted. What would Aunt Lyn look like? I could hear voices and laughter inside the house when the door swung open.
“Welcome,” she hollered, “to my bicentennial film debut broo-ha-ha. Here, have a flag.” She jammed a flag in my hand, while she pushed up the sleeves of her button-up shirt. Her straight peppered brown hair jutted down from her red white and blue Styrofoam parlor hat. She smiled and moved around quickly, giving my older sister a flag too. She was excited and ushered us in.
“Jill, you’re getting tall,” she commented. “Look at your long beautiful hair, and Mark, how old are you now?”
“Eight.” Mark was laconic during family gatherings, overwhelmed by the high energy of my aunts. We all had a deer in the headlights reaction when we hadn’t seen them for a long time, and they doted, like most aunts do.
“This must be Claire?”
“No, it’s Anne,” my mom corrected. Claire and I were only two years apart. I was six and she was four, but we were close enough in age to confuse all my aunts.