I spent much of yesterday with extended family. I had two conversations that were surprising to me.
First, my uncle talked to me about a poet he really likes and why. If you'd have asked me, I would have never guessed my uncle would have read any poetry, much less have a favorite poet. But he does. And it's a really amazingly great poet he loves, too. I'm cherishing that conversation right now, especially since it was so unexpected.
Second, one of my cousins told me that he and some of the other cousins thought I was just the coolest for going off to join the Peace Corps. Like most teenagers, I always thought I just didn't quite fit and was as far from cool as could be. And I always thought this cousin was incredibly cool. So it shocked me to learn that he'd always felt like he didn't quite fit, and thought I was cool. I guess one of the things I've learned to realize is that most teens and young adults feel awkward and unfitting, and look at others and imagine they're all so much cooler and better and everything. But now we're of an age where we can tell each other that we think they're cool. It's amusing, isn't it, because while you're young, that sort of honesty would feel so utterly uncool and embarrassing.
It was fun, and great to talk to people I don't see nearly often enough.
One of the best things is that even though I'm not around lots, and even though various combinations of the cousins were (and are) close or not, we've grown up into adults whose conversation I enjoy and who do good things in their lives.
That makes living far away worse somehow.
I spent the evening with college friends. There's nothing quite like sitting around, chatting, and having history, getting each others' lines, and caring about each other. Yet another reason living far away is hard.
Yeah, I can't even imagine how my ancestors picked up and left where they'd been and never went back. What an amazing courageous and weird thing, eh?