The Roses  

Monday, August 11 : 10:17 AM : 2 comments :

This weekend I journeyed upstate to visit my cousins in New York. I'm older than both of them combined and practically twice as old as Cleo, who will be a junior in the fall. Since my Aunt Frances always lived on the opposite coast from the rest of our family, we rarely got a chance to see them. The last time was when I lived in Jersey City, about seven years ago. Both Cleo and Tiana (entering the eighth grade) were the cutest kids ever and my how they've grown.

Tiana is precocious and bright while Cleo is now almost as tall as me, probably/definitely way smarter, and sarcastic as all get out. While I was gushing about them to Mike, he said, "You sound like you're proud of them." I guess I am, even though obviously I had nothing to do with raising them. I was just proud to be related really.

My Aunt Frances was always the cool aunt that everybody has. Someone who was with it, seemed perpetually young, and didn't seem like an overbearing adult at all. I looked in her 80-gig iPod this weekend and she had some Akon and Danity Kane in there, which is just like, well, crazy. Her husband, Dan, has a whole shelf of movies and we sat down Saturday night to watch Blade Runner. Yeah, Blade Runner. For two teenage girls. That's some serious variety game for them when they get older.

What amazes me most about Cleo and Tiana is their sheer intelligence. I know each generation is smarter and more with it than the next, but there were so many times over the past two days when I was just stunned by how quick they were, especially Cleo, who can give just about anyone I know a run for their money on wit and comebacks. She's also armed with an incredible memory that seems to have sucked in all these tiny little details from our infrequent past interactions. Like at lunch we were talking about an old boyfriend of George's and Cleo said "Tony? The marine?" She even knew that he was a few years younger than George.

I don't know why George was telling an eight year old about her love life but hey, Cleo remembered it all. Mine too. She remembered Angie from our visit to Radio City Music Hall years ago and was savvy enough to figure out that she was my girlfriend. You cannot underestimate kids, ever.

The two of them are also voracious readers. Their bedrooms are filled with shelves of books and they were constantly reading and bringing books along to every event. They're psyched for my upcoming book and I only wish I had hung out with them earlier to get some true insight into how teenagers really are. I mean, I felt like the things I've been into for the past year mirrored similarly the things Cleo was into. It's true, I'm a teenage girl! Even though she doesn't quite believe it, a large part of the reason I named my main character "Chloe" was because I really wanted to name her "Cleo," which would obviously been in her honor. Now I wish I had.

Of course, then the book would have to be an entirely different piece of work because my book is a bit superficial and concerned with the things that cliched teenage girls are into and Cleo is, I feel like, deep. Not a cliched teenager at all. Her tastes already run toward the alternative, the anti-mainstream, and she's got ambitions to help people and on top of that she's also quite the writer.

The crazy thing is that the two of them aren't just bookworms. They're both really social, with great personalities, and a whole bunch of friends. They play sports, they go to (nerd) camp, they are all over technology, and they have so many wonderful experiences ahead of them. Tiana, who's a bit younger and a totally different personality type than Cleo, has this contagious sort of happy vibe which I can see evolving into making her this really great all-around girlstar. One who's not only smart, athletic, social, and involved, but also has that extra spark that people just really enjoy being around. Heck, I want to hang around the two of them all the time now just to watch them grow up.

They make we feel like I was so unself-aware when I was their age. Like totally lost. I wish I had done the Seven Up series with them. It would be quite the documentary with two stunning subjects. Yeah, I'm gushing. You would too okay?

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