Some people may argue that time is a constant—60 seconds always adds up to a minute, which always lasts exactly 60 seconds. But all I need is a day with my family to know that time truly is relative.

Today, a handful of my kin gathered to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We had a lovely lunch of pulpo a la marinera and crepas con cajeta, which disappeared in a flash.

The crowd thinned considerably after lunch. Within an hour, only mom, dad and I were still at the table. Time slowed to a crawl (in the best possible sense) as my parents started telling some old family yarns.

I’d heard before that my grandma Josefina was a friend to many Mexican priests, poets and presidents. For a time she was also the headmistress of a military school. And later in life, she’d been head of a national academy whose precise name I forget.

But I’d never before heard that she was once walled in—complete with brick and mortar, Cask-of-Amontillado-style—to protect her from Emiliano Zapata’s appetite for pretty young things. Apparently she wasn’t the only fair maiden in her village to be hidden inside the family home’s walls.

It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I wondered how the *other* maidens felt … you know, the ones that weren’t pretty enough to immure. But I digress.

My parents also told me about their trip to Sabi Sabi, and of how they left a recently-purchased painting at the airport while they went on safari for three days. It was still there when they got back. (And it’s still hanging in their bedroom.)

Dad told me about the time Mom was stabbed with a fork during a food riot in Peru. Meat had been very scarce, and Mom had apparently gotten between a hungry diner and dinner. She was so traumatized that Dad took to doing the shopping—at 6:30 or 7 a.m. on Sundays, while the meat was being delivered.

How many people can say that their mom was stabbed over a steak? I’m endlessly amazed by my family’s ridiculously rich lore.

Once again, I find myself resolving to record some of these stories for future generations—even if no one will believe the one about the plague of frogs in the rain forests of Peru.

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