A little over a month ago, I took a trip to North Carolina. I have two aunts and uncles and five cousins there, and I hadn't seen them since my sister's high school graduation. The occasion was the high school graduation of the oldest of the cousins there.
The aunts (Libby and Teri) are my mom's sisters, and are kind of similar to her in some ways, but their husbands are both pretty different from anyone with whom I usually deal. I think Carlos is an engineer, and if not, he definitely talks like one. I had the best conversations of the vacation when I managed to get people one on one or in small groups, such as in the car from one house to the other (the two families live about 45 minutes apart). The first big event was a dinner at which I could only talk to the people sitting near me; the second was the actual graduation party, which was a whole lot of people I didn't know with a few I did. My sister, mom, and her husband, my mom's mother, and some other relatives on my mom's side were there in addition to the aunts, uncles, and cousins.
There were a cat and a dog at Teri's place, and a cat and two dogs at Libby's. The dogs were actually really pleasant and didn't bother me at all. I think my attitude towards dogs may be softening from “completely opposed” to “maybe in a house, though not in an apartment”. Though I still doubt I'd actually bother to get one unless I lived with someone who wanted to.
I had some pretty good conversations with Teri and Carlos about investments and planning (they own a lake house, and plan to sell their main house and move there when they retire). I'll have to try to make it less than four years until I see them, or my other relatives on that side, again this time.
Then, on the last weekend in June, I flew to Pittsburgh for the last DPB 4oJ party ever (which wasn't on the 4th of July this year, since that was on a Wednesday, but on the Saturday before). I actually flew out Thursday evening to have more time there; as it turned out this was mildly unnecessary, and I had to ask for a ride since a flight delay made me get in after the buses stopped running, but it was kind of fun to get a chance to talk to Krotscheck, anyway. I stayed at the Cabana; the only other people there were Will, who then left on Friday, and Clyde. It was a good place to crash, though, especially since one of the parties was down near Forward and the other was at the Embassy, both within easy walking distance.
The first party, Friday evening at CdL / Ouchhouse, was great. I brought a bottle a Myers Rum, which was quite popular. I had some great conversations (though, being intoxicated at the time and it being several weeks later now, I can't really remember who most of them were with) and slightly cemented my name-to-face associations. I definitely talked to Ed, and I remember when Laura and Erik arrived. Things finished up talking to people that included Emily, King, maybe Krotscheck and maybe others I don't remember, while I smoked my pipe on the rooftop that is the back yard of those two houses (a very large rooftop too; a lot of space seemingly pulled out of thin air), and then I walked home.
Over the course of the weekend, I would be very impressed by my ability to deal with fairly large amounts of alcohol, considering the hangovers I've sometimes had. I was drinking a lot more gradually than those other times, and after going to sleep, I woke up about every 2 hours to go to the bathroom and drink more water. I never felt a hangover at all.
4oJ itself seemed a bit slower than the previous night (for me), though it was also a lot longer, so it kind of evened out. I managed to find the circle of DPB libertarians; talked politics with King; briefly saw Jayna, though I wouldn't consider any of it a real conversation; did a lot of other stuff I don't remember; and near the end, Fiona and Chris showed up, which was kind of surreal since I had never really expected to see them again.
Sunday there was lunch at Lulu's, which grew to Mallorca-esque proportions, and then I had to catch my flight. I diddled around long enough at the Cabana that I caught a later 28X than I really should have, and was worried I might miss my flight, but then I made it just about on time, and that flight was delayed too, anyway. And then we had to sit for at least half an hour waiting for a gate at DFW, because the airport was backed up due to weather problems earlier in the day. This is a definite downside of short vacations: having to spend more time dealing with air travel per day of vacation. On the other hand, Kat was fine both times even with no caretaker.
I had a brief moment, while riding the bus to the airport past the Fairfax (where Ratha lived, where I first visited her and where I briefly lived after moving in with her) of badly wanting to drop everything and move back to Pittsburgh. Which, as it turns out, is pretty much what Ratha did, and why she was there (a fact I can't claim to have been unselfconscious of). I kind of hope that these kinds of feelings increase in the future, eventually impelling me to action, because I don't really see myself growing roots in Texas, and neither do I see myself having a solid enough base on which to define and achieve my life goals without those roots somewhere.