"You choose your friends, you choose your enemies, but family - that's in the stars...."
That has always been one of my favorite quotes - I was reminded of why during our week-long vacation to Maryland and Virginia. We began in my hometown of Ocean City, Maryland (ok, it's not quite my hometown but it's the closest place anyone has heard of) for a few days, drove past my old stomping grounds and the house I grew up in, had funnel cake and fried twinkies on the Boardwalk, saw some ponies on Assateague Island and had some delicious white pizza at the world-famous Lombardis.
Sitting out on the porch of the family beach house we were staying in (which my Father built) the first night hit me with wave after wave of nostalgia. Even though I never spent much time at that particular house, I did spend many a weekend in the Ocean Pines neighborhood. They have similar issues with street lights that Hilton Head does, so it was very dark, save for the various porch lights. There was a wonderful breeze blowing and it was about 70 degrees - perfect weather. Between the smell of the pine trees on the wind, and the sounds of the frogs and crickets, it was as if I had stepped back through time. That, coupled with the massive growth in the area (Ocean Pines even has a Dunkin Donuts now!) it was enough to make me fantasize about returning one day, but only for a moment. The truth is even though it will always be my home, there isn't anyone or anything left there to bring me back.
After Ocean City we headed west, towards Kent Island on the Chesapeake Bay where my Grandfather lives, and where my other Grandfather built several houses in the 70's and 80's. He and his wife Diana gave us the grand tour, which included my Grandparents old house that was built in 1700 and the "worlds fourth largest Holly tree"! While there I also managed to blow Allison's mind by asking for and receiving a shot of Kahlua, which I for some reason had a very distinct memory of having before in that house, at an age no greater than 10. My Grandfather surmised that my Dad must have let me have a sip. Anyway, Macias got to meet his Great-Grandfather, and I got to see my Aunt Jordan and Aunt Cynthia for the first time in at least 15 years, and meet my cousins Peter, Justin and Molly for the first time.
Then we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on our way to Allison's Grandparents house in Warrenton, VA. The trip on the Washington D.C. beltway was pretty intense and made even more so by the precious cargo I was carrying. The 55 mph speed limit on that road must be some kind of joke - people were routinely passing me doing at least 90 mph. I guess that's just how the city folk do things....moving on, we arrived at Joan and Brooks house on Wednesday afternoon. The entire family was coming in for their 60th wedding anniversary party. Macias got to meet his Great-Grandparents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins - the whole works. Despite his Father being a little overwhelmed (my family can fit around a dinner table - Allison's....maybe 20 dinner tables) he was his usual awesome self, taking it all in and was of course the star of the show. My job was to stand there and make sure he had whatever he needed for continued cuteness.
We headed home on Sunday, having to make the drive in one day so that Macias could start at day care and Allison could start her first day back at work. Trying to keep up with the Broncos game with nothing but a Blackberry and AM radio was impossible, and apparently I missed one heck of a finish but we made finally made it.
Overall it was a wonderful trip and so great to see everyone - obviously there are times when your family can get on your nerves, but in the end they're the only people you can always count on. Macias is very lucky to have been born into such a wonderful family full of people who unconditionally love him. As for me, I'm not sure when I'll get back to Maryland again, but I doubt it will take me another seven years. It is, after all, home.
M & M swimming in the Emporia, VA Fairfield Inn's pool
Hopefully Macias will never need prescription shades like his old man...
The Bonner family beach house in Ocean Pines, MD
The view from the back deck of said Bonner beach house...
Macias, his Great-Grandfather and some nerdy guy...
The Bonner clan - clockwise from center: My Grandfather John, Aunt's Cynthia and Jordan, some woman holding a baby, my cousins Justin, Peter, Molly and John's wife Diana.
My Grandfathers house, built by my other Grandfather
View from the back deck - sunset over the Chesapeake Bay
Macias meeting his Grandfather for the first time
Snack time with Grandma Lynn!
Macias and his Great-Grandmother, Joan
A happy family...