I am settling in nicely back in DC, attending Pol/Econ training and meeting up with old friends. Today, I even got Bailey back from my friends who watched him while I was on home leave (big thanks to Ellen and Reuben. I can never repay your kindness to me).
But, the big highlight of the week was my cousin Mike's wedding on Saturday. Unfortunately, FSI and my cousin conspired to make the wedding just five days after home leave ended. If I had still been on home leave, I could have spent several days in Omaha. I would have been able to spend time hanging out at the family cabin where we spent so many summer weekends when we were kids. Since my trips to Omaha are usually around Christmas time, I never get to back out to the cabin. I was very jealous seeing my sister's photos of them boating, swimming, and skiing out at the lake while I was being lectured on the differences between Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product.
My flight didn't land until after 11 on Friday night, just as the rehearsal dinner finished up. Shelley, Katie and Paul picked me up and we drove out to my cousin Kevin's to stay the night. On Saturday, we had to be at the church at 2 to take some family photos. By our recollection, this was the first time all twelve first cousins, all seven aunts and uncles, and both grandparents had been together since at least 2000 (my high school graduation). When we were growing up, we'd all get together probably a half dozen times a year or more. All the major holidays and usually a few birthdays. Except my family, everyone still lives in Omaha and they see each other on a regular basis. I am usually the missing link, so it was great to be back and see everyone again.
The wedding was absolutely huge. There were close to 300 people in the church and over 500 guests at the reception. I don't think there is any way the bride and groom actually managed to talk to all of their guests. But despite the wedding being a bit too big, we all had a fantastic time. The food was good, the music was okay, the booze was free flowing, and the crowd was young and having fun. Unfortunately for me, I had a bit too much red wine and took the mantle of the drunk cousin. (As I was moaning outside sick, my sister - who usually takes the title of drunk cousin - kept cheering, "It isn't me! It isn't me!") Fortunately, the reception was almost over when I went over the ledge and my parents helped get me back to my cousin's where I promptly passed out on the couch for the next nine hours (still in my suit).
On Sunday, we met the other side of my family for lunch. To the surprise of almost everyone, I felt great. I spent a couple of hours talking to my aunts, uncles, and cousins - catching up on everything that has happened since I last saw them two years ago.
We really had an enjoyable lunch before my parents had to take me back to the airport. When I got to the airport, my United flight was oversold and they were looking for volunteers to bump. My original itinerary had me stopping in Newark and arriving back in DC after 11. United ended up giving me a $200 voucher to take a direct flight back with US Air that landed at 8. So, I got $200 and three hours of my life. A fantastic end to a wonderful weekend.