There’s a more guarded account of my family reunion, plus some pictures, at the other blog. This one is less censored but still entirely drama free, because my family is good that way.

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to have all that good a time at the family reunion last weekend; last time I went to one it was boring. My relatives struck me as a bunch of people who considered Scrabble the height of fun and with whom we didn’t have that much in common. I don’t know if they’ve changed or if I have, or if a slightly different bunch came this time, but I had a great time and found them unexpectedly fascinating – there were a bunch of great kids, an artist-activist and a few others whose politics inform their daily lives, a jeweler and two architects, and some aunts who could tell me good family stories. Lots of favorite moments;

I got to play with my baby nephew the whole time, not only during the reunion weekend. I have the scars from it, though: he has sharp fingernails, occasionally likes to grab a handful or flesh and twist, and likes to thwack whoever is holding him when he’s especially excited. He also likes to grab hair. Of course, at ten months old, he’s got no concept that he can hurt anyone else yet. He’s come wonderfully far from his plucked-chicken preemie days; he’s pulling himself up on everything and was standing alone for whole seconds at a time, can go up a step or two, laughs and babbles. He also has the attention span of a mayfly, I suspect from having lived in a house where lots of people were trying to get his attention. He loves his food, is not a fussy eater at all and gets mortally offended when he has to wait (a whole minute sometimes!) for his bottle to be prepared. He may still be a little behind in that he doesn’t seem to be all that imitative, says da-da but doesn’t really associate it with his dad, doesn’t have much of a pincer grip, doesn’t feed himself except for the odd Cheerio (for which he puts his whole hand in his mouth) and only sort of understands words.

There was also an adorable four-year-old, complete with drama-queen stories and gestures (though no tantrums), and older kids I talked to about hair care and books and travel.

One of my cousins, artist/activist Carole Zoom, has traveled the world despite (or after meeting her, possibly because of) being in a wheelchair and on a ventilator due to muscular dystrophy.

Another, when I asked what her passion was, told us about her ultra-liberal politics at dinner, leading to one of those moments I love where my mom articulately defends her belief in individual women’s rights to make their own choices. (She was preaching to the choir, but it’s still fun for me to hear. MY family’s values don’t include hate!)

There was another moment, when I was having an early breakfast with an older cousin and her grandson, where she talked about how this branch of the family has always been about inclusion. And it’s true. On ethe one hand, her grandson is half Malaysian, and a look back through the family tree someone compiled shows that in all generations shown people married into a bunch of different ethnic groups. On the other, my Dad is not related by blood to these people: his foster mother’s family includes him as one of their own (and also always included his foster father, even after they divorced, and his second wife). It’s a good family to be part of.

It was also fun discussing the topological aspects of knitting with an architect cousin – he was impressed with the elephant I had just made for my nephew, which is constructed entirely without seams except that the edge of each ear is grafted.

On Monday, I visited the jewelry store of another cousin and spent too much money (though I think he gave me very good prices.) It’s not a typical chain place; he represents a bunch of independent artists. After that I did a lot of meandering around Center City until it was time to meet up with the Obstreperious Primrose (not sure if she likes her name used online). That was great fun, because we’ve known each other online since about 1998 – the Web itself has only existed since about 1993, so that’s a looooong time in Internet years – but had never met in person. So we had years of common interests, friends and acquaintances to talk over. To add to the fun for me, we met at the new restaurant of another friend. (“Friend” is not quite the right word here – more like chosen though currently distant family. I don’t talk to them often just due to distance, but his parents were like older siblings to me during my teen years, and he was my favorite of all the kids I babysat. It’s a bit odd to visit the restaurant of someone who once used you as a climbing gym!) After lunch there (Jewish Apple cake for me!), we walked to Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, where I managed to restrict myself to only a couple skeins of sock yarn. Another of my oldest friends dropped by while we were there, too, so I got to see her and her adorable daughter. Then back to 11th Street and the train home. I think I walked about four miles (in fact, just over 4 – someone finally invented a website where you can track where you walked, a thing I’ve wanted for a while) plus about another half mile to and from the bus and a 100-yard flat-out sprint to catch a bus. I think I can count the day as exercise, too.

Then Delta somehow had problems getting my boarding pass printed, but finally got that resolved. It turns out that flying from Philadelphia to New York is actually slower than taking the train – an hour and a half in the plane (at least half of that on the ground) plus the time in the airport. But in the JFK airport I got a pedicure and shoulder massage, and then I upgraded to business with miles (and some $) and so managed to get several hours of sleep on the way back.

Overall, it was a very good trip, definitely better than expectations. (My relatives do still like to play Scrabble, but that was only a problem when I thought it was all they liked. This time the board only came out once, and they thoroughly wiped it with me.)