I could title this something snippy about why I had to win the crazy parent lottery, but I'll leave it at this sentence.
Going to what one could at this point term the family compound is always both a treat and a trial. The fact that I rarely have the time and money to visit, accompanied by the fact that no one else has ever left creates this interesting dynamic whereby everyone there knows quite a lot about me because my dad visits so often these days, whereas I hardly recognize any of them. At this point, I think they know his girlfriend better than they know me. This largely disconcerting at first, but I settled into it fairly easily this time. Even so, the idea that these folks see each other all the time and I see them once a decade is a strong contrast, at the very least.
I got to visit with my grandfather more this time (we call him Granddad, which is more fun than Grandpa). He told my cousin, two years my senior, and I that we should appreciate the educational opportunities we have, because they've given us a choice with our lives that many folks don't have. I think this view is lost on today's world, because opportunity is fleeting and can take so many forms, and because a near-poverty existence isn't the status quo. Instead, we see people living extravagantly, and hear the subtle chauvinism against poverty as it is cast as a function of poor choices rather than poor opportunities and bad policy.
My grandmother said she just likes to hear me and my cousin talk, so we bantered back and forth about politics-- him from a marketing perspective with an eye toward fragmented coalition-building, me from a civic engagement, collaborative policy point of view. The two are less in concert than one would imagine. Regardless, it's funny that he has an MBA and I have an MPPA. Two sides of similar coins, in our realm, since we're both very focused on civic life. He wants to influence policy from the donor/campaign side, I want to do it from the inside out. I suspect he'll ultimately be more successful than I.