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Cousin Perri scores a big break: Emily Ford column

By Emily Ford
Salisbury Post
While many college freshmen screamed into Daytona or Padre or wherever the kids go now, my 19-year-old cousin came here.
To Salisbury.
For her first spring break.
And she actually had fun.
Perri goes to school and runs track at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her training schedule cut her spring break to just a few days, not enough time to fly home to Canada.
So, a little homesick and ready to see some family, she flew here instead.
Nellie and I picked her up in Charlotte and kept on driving. We made it to Columbia, S.C., just in time to see Perri’s brother Todd take the ice as goalie for the Columbia Inferno.What a game! Todd made several incredible saves, and the crowd roared its appreciation. We danced and sang and ate junk food. During a break, Nellie “chucked” her foam puck onto the ice.
Perri was on the phone with her parents in Calgary and I was on the phone with my parents in South Dakota, who were all listening to the game on their computers.
At the end of regulation play, the score was tied. Then, at the end of sudden-death overtime, it was still tied.
Well, hockey games don’t end in ties anymore. Todd faced a shoot out.
We moved to a tunnel entrance to get a better view. I thought I was going to throw up. I thought Perri was going to pass out. Even Nellie was wringing her hands.
How he contorts his 6-foot, 4-inch frame into those positions I do not know, but Todd managed to block all but two shots from the opposing team, as their players tried one by one to slip the puck past him.
Each time they scored, the Inferno answered with a point of their own. Finally, the Inferno scored the third and winning point.
The stadium erupted, and we nearly screamed ourselves hoarse.
Todd joined us for a late-night dinner to celebrate. Nellie, 9, couldn’t believe she was in a restaurant at midnight. I felt a little like Britney Spears.
On Perri’s first day in Salisbury, she received an accurate if blistering introduction to our life. We may not host wet T-shirt contests or take shots out of someone’s belly button, but it’s quite a party here just the same.
She awoke to Clara, 4, turning on all the lights in the guest room, then standing next to the bed pushing a button on her Barbie clothing design toy so Barbie repeatedly said things like, “These capris ó do not go ó with this ó top.”
As Perri opened her eyes, Clara asked innocently, “Are you awake?”
We went to my husband’s bike race, quick clothing change in the van, then Nellie’s soccer game. Perri put on a brave face when I dropped her off with the girls at the neighborhood Easter egg hunt, where she knew absolutely no one except our neighbor’s dog, so I could get Henry to a birthday party and baseball practice.After playing with our puppy, babysitting while I grocery shopped and eating a family dinner, Perri finally took her run at 8:30 p.m.
Afterward, she held the guinea pigs while I cleaned their cage, and they did not poop on her.
“Kids and animals,” Perri said. “It’s nice to be around them again.”
I will say the same for Perri and Todd.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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