Wednesday, August 12, 2009

adventures in charlottesville

i had the best weekend visiting charlottesville, va, and my cousins. apparently i have a whole slew of first cousins once removed, second cousins, and everything in between. they are fun people; i'm rather sad i never knew about them most of my life--or rather, i knew very little about them.

the main purport of my visit was to see UVA, which turns out to be an 18th century hedonist's dream. my second cousin, jessie, who's 15, was my tour guide. we wandered all over the campus, musing on the idea that when english settlers first came to virginia, they wrote back to their relatives across the pond to tell them how 'tropical' the weather was. this led to a discussion on the hell it must have been to live in the original jamestown, and on our inability to conceive of why anyone in their right mind would agree to cross the atlantic in a cramped, stinky boat filled with disease and people you can't get away from, only to settle in an area where you would live in a one room hut with fifteen other people and eventually die of dysentery, if it hadn't happened already on the boat. at any rate, UVA was deeply beautiful, but i have to admit that i was most impressed by the clinique makeup counter in the university bookstore.

then jessie took me on an adventure all over the city, where we crossed our tracks so many times that i feel i must have memorized every street by now. of course, this is impossible, since my sense of direction is about as sharp as wet tissue paper. but i did begin to have a vague recollection of the places we were seeing. we went downtown, met up with some friends of hers who took us on a random trip to this creepy observatory that looked like the scene from a horror film. then we made a random trip to the SPCA, since jessie wanted (and has since acquired) a fluffy white bunny named lester, which i somehow feel is appropriate. then we decided to make another random trip to ash lawn, the home of james monroe. it turned out it was closed, but we were able to walk around the grounds and i pretended i lived there. in my head.

i also got to see my great aunt (or second cousin going in the other direction? not sure). at any rate, it was a great weekend of relaxing conversation and catching up on years of stories. i feel very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.

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