I recently went to PA for a family gathering; mom came up from FL, my brother came out from Seattle, and all the people who live out that way. Impossible to get *everybody*, but we did ok.
Flew out on a Friday, way early… flight left at like 6:20 or something. Connection through Dallas, on to Philly. Mom and AJ arrived many hours later, so I took a shuttle to within a few minutes of my Aunt Marian’s place, then she scooped me up. The party was at their new (very sweet) house (with a bigass barn / stables), which they had only started living in the day before…. so things were a little hectic for them… moving is always crazy. There was lots of food, outdoor activity, a birthday celebration, and several rounds of chess. My cousin Kyle is into it (and seemed pretty decent for an 8 year old), so we played a bunch on their swanky chess set, which caused a couple others to get in on the action as well.
Sunday we went over to a cousin’s place for an afternoon, also fun times, got to hang out a bit more with their kids whom I hadn’t met before Friday (and others; a total of 4 ‘new’ second cousins).
On Monday, myself, my mom and grandparents headed back to their place in Slippery Rock, PA. It’s about a 7 hour drive or so, not too bad, but only two days after the flights to get out here, so I was getting a little antsy toward the end.
The place in Slippery Rock is about the same as I remember it being since I started going up there at like age 5 or something… though it does now have certain modern conveniences such as wireless internet access (granddad is way into it, grandmom is quick to change the subject :). One difference is that this time, for various reasons, a bunch of our (me, AJ, mom, Bob) stuff was in storage under a lean-to behind granddad’s shed. Mom wanted to get that all sorted, so we drug it all out. It was all packed in cardboard boxes, and they were stored outside – though I must note that granddad took every possible precaution to keep them well stored, including digging a ditch around the entire top half of the shed to keep the ground dry. Some of them were still kinda nasty, though, and some groundhog had some fun in there, but overall, only a small amount of stuff was lost or otherwise funktified beyond repair.
One thing I definitely nabbed was my trombone (I played it all through middle / high school); got it all cleaned and whatnot. I played for a short while outside, and my chops are predictably shot. I could build ’em back, but there’s not much motivation unless I start hanging with people who need horns, heh. Also grabbed a few old t-shirts, some CDs, and a couple other very small odds and ends.
It was two days of work getting it all sorted… there was a garage sale pile, a free library donation pile, a keep pile, a garbage pile, and of course the burn pile. Around the half-way point, I heard some sort of music box – just a single tone – from a box that mom was working on, and immediately stopped what I was doing and just stood there, somewhat involuntarily. She started to say what it was, but I already knew it was my first little wind-up music box toy. This probably sounds kinda cheesy, but I was (still am) amazed at how the sound of it affects me, it’s pretty surreal… definitely an intense emotional swell of some sort. Every nuance is familiar.
We also spent some time looking through some old photos… like really old. The grandparents know most of the history; a rather startling amount of it, I thought. Anyway, they’d go though the photos and just weave the story to go along with the pictures. I was thinking how much more valuable that is than just pictures alone… We started plotting ways to capture it all, but it’ll have to wait for next time.
My third day there was also the last; they brought me to the Pittsburg airport to fly out a bit after 7 in the evening. The flights back kinda sucked… we were delayed over an hour getting out, which brought my Chicago connection window down to about 8 minutes. I arrived with a few minutes to spare (rather out of breath) only to find that the connection was also delayed. The second flight seemed comically and then infuriatingly long, and I realized that my expectations had been set by the trip out, which had two more equal legs. After all the recent travel, I was really going nuts on this airplane – plus it was late, and I was worn out and sunburned.
Anyhow, great times were had, and we’ll probably do it again next year!