Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What I learned at my family reunion

Some of you might know that my brothers, sister, parents and I had a family reunion in Washington, DC, recently. We came from Vancouver, WA, San Francisco, San Diego, Alabama, Shanghai, Silver Spring, and Virginia. Besides the fun of seeing everyone, including, my siblings and their spouses, my nephews and nieces and their spouses and my great-niece, and my auntie and cousins, I always like to think about what I learn from the clan gathering.

I learn about myself and why I am the way I am. Like why do I walk fast? (Yes, my 80-year old mother walks fast and I guess that's why I'm like that.) Almost always punctual (a definite family trait)! In my family, if they say meet at 12 noon and you get there at 11:55 am, you're already 10 minutes late.

Why does my husband stay up late into the wee hours of the morning? Well, his mom and brothers do, too. It's their family culture.

What do I remember of DC? The green-ness of the city's tree canopy! Even riding on the shuttle from Dulles airport into DC, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see the incredible green tree canopy and the fields on the airport access road. Vanessa and I took the red-eye flight from LA so we were exhausted. But I slept well at my parent's home, which still feels like home, a comforting, secure place.

My parents still like to watch a lot of TV, but because of the conversion to digital format, some of their TVs are no longer working. Instead, I got to watch the kitchen TV loop in Spanish and English about the digital conversion... This seemed silly but my mom had to show me that something was wrong with her TV.

Some of the things we did: party at Peter and Eleanor's home, a visit to the US Botanical Gardens (my first time there since it was rebuilt), dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill (which was very nice) an old, elegant restaurant near the White House, pizza and pasta and slide show (Thanks, Rachael and Zach), seeing my first friend whom I've known since we were 3 years old (she found me on Facebook), Dianne; photo session; dinner at Connie and Jack's palatial digs in Virginia, swimming at the co-op pool, church, a visit with long-time friend Judi, a walk with Dianne around our childhood neighborhood, including the "Lot" which was sort of our own Terabithia.

We met old friends and distant relatives, some of whom I used to get somewhat annoyed by. Now, after so many years, I just smile and think that I don't really get to see them much (once a year, once a decade?). Why be judgmental? What can I learn from them?

Peter, Joshua, and I also saw the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, the Hope diamond, and two IMAX movies (Night at the Museum, Smithsonian was one of them). We took the Metro some of the time and drove some of the time. The weather was exceptionally kind, warm but not too humid. A few sprinkles here and there but no overpowering downpours.

When I moved to the Arlington side of town to be with my in-laws, I went thru Internet withdrawal since they do not have service. It was difficult; I've forgotten how much I depend on email and web. I survived though and was glad I didn't have to type on a keyboard or mouse.

Final note: At the family reunion, I felt welcome and relaxed. I felt at home. I recall that Robert Frost line: Home is where they have to take you in. And it's still a good feeling to have.