Island Hopping in a Car

The last few weekends, M and I went on roadtrips to see friends and family.

First, on July 20, we drove down to Amelia Island in northern Florida to attend the wedding of our good friends Bob and Darci, both sociologists who recently got PhDs from UNC. It was a very nice event… Friday night, there was a dance and mixer in a clubhouse on the marshes, where we saw lots of old friends who’ve since scattered around the country, and met Bob and Darci’s family. The next day we lounged around the beach with friends until the evening ceremony, which was held on yet another island, Fort George Island, linked by bridges (I think there were 2 smaller islands between). It was my kind of ceremony –short and focused on the couple. The reception afterward had delicious food (even if I couldn’t eat most of it), and we had a lot of fun dancing. We also met Bob’s famous movie-star sister Anna. Sunday morning, we went to a bustling brunch, and talked more with Bob’s family and their friends… Bob comes from a line of prominent sociologists, going back 3 generations, and there was interesting conversation. We drove home in record time (unlike our drive down, where we missed our exit and ended up driving in a huge circle around Raleigh… which turned out well, since we discovered we forgot our dress clothes in the hustle, and had to go back for them).

The next weekend, we drove down to the Isle of Palms, near Charleston, South Carolina, to see M’s great-uncle and his sons. They were visiting from Spain, where her grandfather’s brother had emigrated in the 40s. He spoke glowingly about Franco (a first for me) and socialism in general, and held forth on many topics… a fascinating guy. We took midnight walks on the beach with his sons and one’s girlfriend, and by day toured Charleston, where M’s family was once quite prominent, being some of the first Huguenots to settle there.

This past weekend, we saw them again, not on an island but down in the country where M’s family is clustered on their farm spread… her grandparents, her mom, and her aunt each have a house there. We all got together for M’s young cousin’s birthday, and her colorful family was amusing as ever. They are politically Southern, which in this case is a odd mix of individualist independence and progressiveness, and they have surprisingly nuanced views on Federalism and the “War of Northern Aggression”… “The Civil War,” claims her grandfather (or was it his brother?), “was when the American citizens of Britain waged war against England. The War of Northern Aggression was declared and waged between two different countries.” But of course, being rational, they all despise George W. Bush. They’re okay in my book. They also told me ghost stories about their houses that they firmly believe. An odd bunch. Maybe it was an island after all.

Party On

When we were hunting for a new house this past Summer and Autumn, M and I wanted a place that would be good for parties. It’s not that we have thrown a lot of parties in the past… it’s that we wanted to change that. Well, we found a great place: spacious living room and kitchen, and a screened-in porch with sliding glass doors that joined the two. And we have had a few small dinners and hosted one Meet-Up. But we haven’t been holding parties, not even a housewarming. This year, that changes!

Our collective New Year’s Resolution was to throw a party a month for the next year. We succeeded –just barely– in that crucial first step… throwing the first party. We screwed up a little, with both of us so busy and thinking the other was sending out the email invitation, we only sent it out on Thursday, the day before the party, so we weren’t surprised that not many folks showed up. But we had fun anyway, and now we’re better prepared for next month.
Next month being Chinese New Year, we’re throwing a Chinese New Year’s Eve party on February 17. What exactly that entails, I have no idea yet, but it’s probably got something to do with dragons, pigs (next year’s Chinese zodiac animal), potstickers, and fireworks.