You know the country song (I looked it up; it's by Rodney Atkins) that says ,"These are my people. This is where I come from...."? That song has been playing in my head all day.
Cousin R picked me up from the hotel at 10 am sharp. She greeted my mom and I with hugs and they chatted for a few minutes, catching up on which kid is where and doing what. We headed back to Robin's house in her big truck, dog Tony along for the ride. Their house is huge, very unique and cool, and sits on a little lake.
R and I chatted (ahem, I repeat: I chatted) for an hour until Aunt D appeared. She knew that there was a "surpise" at R's, but not that it was me. As I peered around the kitchen door, she faced the opposite way, so I grabbed her into a tight hug. I swear, for all of five minutes, all she could say was, "Oh my gosh!" R finally said, "Mom, do you know who this is?" She said, "Of course I do! It's Lydia! Oh my gosh!"
Over the next five hours, the two of them took me on a whirlwind family tour. First, it was off to see Cousin E (er, cousin's daughter, technically, but she's my age) who has spent the last year traveling Europe on her own. I haven't seen her in 13 years, but we used to play profusely as children. We caught her on her lunch break at work. I was thrilled to see her after so long, having nothing but great memories of our times together. We talked for a few minutes, and then she had to get back to work, but now that we're Facebook friends I'm sure we'll stay caught up with each other.
Aunt D took me from there and we went to their little cottage in the back of Cousin S's yard. Uncle F, who loves art, films, cartoons, and Shakespeare and is somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Magoo, minus the eyesight problem and plus some suspenders, came home from a little day trip. I swear the man hasn't visibly aged in 40 years and hasn't changed in the slightest. He's truly one of my favorite people in the world.
As Uncle F sat down to a lunch of liverwurst and crackers, Cousin S came home from the local cafe/bakery he owns with his wife, Aida. After 20 minutes, it was time for us to head down to the bakery to see their daughter (also my age, working in NYC as a fashion industry intern). Becky and I got close when I visited them five years ago for a week, and it was so good to see her. She greeted me with a huge hug and, "I miss you, I miss you, I miss you!" We fit an unreal number of words into the 25 minutes we had, and it was time for Aunt D and Uncle F to take me back to meet R and head back to the hotel.
There are so many details I could add, but I'd be here forever. It's the best day I've had since... well, definitely since Disney World with my mom last year. It's probably in the top 10 of good days in my life, to be honest. I had lost all hope that I would ever be truly comfortable with people besides my mom and Leigh. I felt so incredibly... normal. I fit right in, even with the same-age cousins I had gotten so nervous about seeing. These people sound like me, look like me, talk like me, even think like me. It's a feeling I need to have more often, and one that I plan on returning to this winter via bus.