23 July 2008


According to my high school history teacher, Mr. Smith, a rendezvous was an annual gathering of mountain men between the years 1820- 1840. There were games, adventures, and ultimately traditions at the Rendezvous. And of course, don’t let me forget, in between every activity, there was food, and a lot of it.

Tomorrow, I leave for the tiny town of Oakley, Idaho. This is a rendezvous. It fits the definition perfectly. My family all gathers in late July. We eat. Then, we eat again. We disregard any stomach pains and keep enjoying of penny candy, trail mix, and Aunt Linda's cookies. And along with the food comes a game or two, adventures, and traditions.

Can I show you Oakley?

View Larger Map

We drive in to the town on a small highway passing farms complete with barns and wooden fences. The town has approximately one main road—Main Street. We pass Shirley’s and the post office and we arrive at the Pink House (my grandma’s house). Next door is Grandma’s House (i.e. my great-grandmother’s house). And that’s the town. I love it.

For me the Oakley rendezvous is about family. I miss my mom in Oakley because her memory is everywhere. I miss her because I am always imagining her and my dad on their honeymoon in Grandma’s House (i.e. Great-Grandma Whiteley's house). I imagine her sitting with my aunts on plastic picnic chairs outside the Pink House. I imagine her at the Oakley warm springs. We have so many pictures of us there.

But the missing of my mom only strengthens the connection of Oakley to family. I think about the two family homes in Oakley and all their many inhabitants stretching across generations: great-aunts, great-grandparents, cousins, parents, and children. Oakley makes me look at family pictures differently and read pieces of genealogy books on the shelves. In Oakley, there is closeness to those who are closest, our family.

It's a great place, that Oakley is. I want to rendezvous there tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that.

No comments: