After traveling 1400 miles with good friends last weekend, my husband and I can say the friendship remains intact and we now share some wonderful new common memories. Like visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Not visiting the Liberty Bell, at least not indoors with our appropriate awe of the historic artifact. (A brief study of the Bell through a window seemed better than standing in hot humidity, in the midday sun, behind a line that snaked to an unseen door). Like spotting a motorcyclist in a dress (yes, a female) with flimsy flipflops, but wearing a helmet. Like watching a fist fight in the parking lot of a hotel, a hotel that happened to be ours.
Our purpose for the trip was a wedding. And the wedding was beautiful and God-honoring and we were happy for our mutual friends whose son was getting hitched. But why does this generation think loud music, loud as in not being able to hold a conversation across the table, and being heard by the shoulder-touching person besides you only if you use an outside voice, is cool? A group of us took our visiting elsewhere and discovered some of the beauty of Swarthmore College where the reception was held.
The wedding site was adjacent to my growing up stomping grounds. We were able to visit my sister who resides in the area and she and my brother-in-law taxied us further north to visit more relatives. I am grateful for these family affairs, more so as age brings new time perspective. Who knows which visit will be the last one with the elderly aunts and uncles? Even though we visit infrequently, I feel that bond of belonging that only comes in family gatherings.
I wonder when it started to change for me? Reunions used to be boring. Most relatives had eccentricities too glaring to overlook. And my youthful activities easily trumped spending time with kin. But it did change and someday it will change for my kids. I had to remember that when I later, excitedly shared with my son how cousin Luke made us homemade french fries and Uncle Ray is still amazing as he gets around with three of his limbs gone, only to hear my 30- something son indicate that he didn't know these people and that I had lost his attention. Because my kids have not had much contact with this out-of-state clan, it is harder for them to feel a connection. But someday...it may be important to know these roots...if not in person...by story or photographs. I can hope.
We're home again, laden with gifts from my sister and the landscapes of our hearts painted with new strokes of colorful memories. The luggage is packed away and the laundry finished. Thank you, Father for your protection and provision for this pleasant excursion.