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2017 Family Reunion in Melbourne, FL

On Thursday the 10th of August MJ and I boarded a red-eye flight across the country to visit my mother’s side of the family in Melbourne, Florida for a small family reunion coinciding with my grandfather’s 81st birthday. The first leg of the trip took us to Miami, where I grabbed an espresso from Cafe Versailles. This stop is a must whenever I’m in that airport, especially since I’m usually stepping off a sleepless overnight flight when I get there. We then had a quick hop up to Orlando. A regional aircraft, right? No, they run a 767 up there, complete with big first class seats which we had complimentary status-based upgrades for! It was a short, but very comfortable flight. We arrived into Orlando and picked up the rental car to drive out to mid day Melbourne and get a nap before meeting family for dinner at a local steakhouse.

Dinner was a sort of was a pre-reunion gathering where MJ and I got to visit with my mother, grandfather and his wife Jo, Aunt Elaine, Aunt Pam, and Uncle Dan and his fiancee Jovie. It was my first time meeting Jovie and MJ was able to get acquainted with my Uncle Dan, the last of my uncles on that side of the family he hadn’t met. It was a fun evening, but even with the afternoon nap I was flagging pretty early and eager to get back to the hotel to get a proper night sleep in a bed.

Saturday was the reunion!

Early in the event we decided to get a cousins photo with grandpa. Now, I have a huge family on that side, since my mother was one of six children. I wouldn’t succeed in naming all of my cousins, let alone getting us all in once place at the same time. So we had a nice, representative sample of some of my generation of cousins, with the kids of four of the six siblings, along with the next generation in little Frankie. Also, our photo is hilarious, and also representative of all of us. We’re all over the place in geography, life and general chaos.

And in spite of my grandfather’s insistence that “this is a reunion not my birthday party!” we did have a carrot cake (his favorite, and mine!) and sang happy birthday late in the afternoon. It was nice reconnecting with family I’m close with, meeting new partners and children who have joined the family since I last visited, connecting with a cousin whose only contact we’ve had since childhood was over Facebook and meeting one cousin I hadn’t seen since we were both kids. It was hot out though, especially with so many people squeezed into a small space, and the required venturing outside for a BBQ lunch, during which I was able to spend some time with my grandfather and an uncle. The festivities wrapped up around 7PM and we went our separate ways for the evening, which for us meant retiring to the hotel pool.

I’d ignored my phone much of the day, and it was upon leaving that we caught up with the heartbreaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia. My family is all over the board politics-wise. As a technology professional living in San Francisco my liberal leanings are well-known in my family, and I was certainly teased to that effect. But when applicable I’d interject a comment or two about equality and fairness to get people from going off the rails. Alas, while they respect me, as a liberal Californian my words seem mean very little to my conservative relatives. Then again, my incredibly white Irish and German ancestry family is getting more colorful by the year. We’re that newly melting pot family that the white nationalists are so offended by, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more American than us. By quietly living our lives and sharing them with whomever we want, we’re nudging our country into the progressive future that I still believe in, in spite of the dreadful setbacks we’re currently seeing.

The next morning was spent at my grandfather’s place with my mother, aunts and uncles, and some mimosas. We also got some more family photos! First posing with my mother and her three sisters.

And with grandpa and Jo (and Molly!).

It was really nice getting to visit everyone. My family does these kinds of gatherings every few years, but it often conflicts with other travel plans I’ve already made for work or otherwise. This was planned months ago so I was able to adjust my schedule around it. This was also the first small chunk of time I’ve taken off since starting my new job in January, so we spent a couple days playing tourist while we were there in in central Florida.