Our week started with a couple of quiet days with my amazing Nana, whose 75th birthday was one of the reasons for the reunion, and the trickle of relatives coming into town early like we did. We slept well, ate well, sat around chatting and doing nothing a lot, and spent an afternoon wandering the cute downtown area by ourselves. The weather was absurdly perfect, and it stayed that way as the stream of relatives turned into a rush and the lazy part of the trip came to a close.
On Thursday, more relatives having shown up, we shared a big dinner at the house my aunt and uncle took over from Nana after my grandfather passed away. On Friday, a family friend who runs the incredible Muscle Shoals Sound Studio took Russell for his first tour of the place where everything from "Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses," and "Layla" to "Torn Between Two Lovers" was recorded in the 1970s (and the Black Keys' award-winning "Brothers" was made last year.) Like everyone who goes for the first time, Russell had chills and couldn't quit grinning all day.
That night, our numbers swelled to at least 50 as friends from the area joined in a belated Saint Patrick's Day celebration. The loud singing, joking, fountain of Irish cream (literally), and rounds of shots lasted into the wee hours. But we were at it again the following afternoon, when the grandkids put on a musical revue in Nana's honor, leaving not a dry eye in the giant backyard. Even Russell joined in to sing "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" with my male cousins and cousins-in-law. And as that party stretched into the evening as well, the local police actually showed up to warn us about the noise! I don't know many people who can say the cops were called on their grandmother's 75th birthday party, so I'm pretty proud.
It's back to the daily grind now, and putting the appropriate emphasis on school is even more difficult after such a fun time. (I've been meaning to explain why it's difficult in general, but I should get to work on a paper, so I'll just say that a couple of my classes this semester are less than satisfying. Not necessarily a bad thing, since it will surely help me let go of this otherwise amazing place in just a few short weeks, but it's never fun being disappointed. More details later, I promise.) For now, as I always seem to be saying, I should be able to get by on the memory of having such a blast and the hope of doing it again before long.