Sunday, March 19, 2017

the cousin trip.

One year ago, I was in Boston with my cousins.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I am fortunate to have some truly great cousins. I have great cousins on both sides, but this story is about the great cousins on my dad’s side: Monica, Melissa, and Taylor.

The cousins in question are all approximately the same age as me, so even though our families lived quite a ways apart, we more or less grew up together. When any/all of them would come to visit, I would be filled with a joy tantamount to Christmas. Nothing was better than cousin visits.

Of course, as we all grew older, the visits became more scarce. We went to college/joined the military/got jobs/traveled/moved away/did all the other things one does as one grows up.

But whenever we did get the chance to get together, it was just as wonderful as it always was: the only difference being that all had driver’s licenses and could legally buy beer.

All six of us (the three cousins, my brother and sister, and me) were together for my wedding in summer 2013, but with it being my wedding and all, there was precious little time to hang out. We all got to spend some quality time together at the big Bjorklund reunion of June 2015, in which our grandma Sheila rented a resort for us for a four-day weekend.

I’m not sure how that all came to pass, but however it happened, it was genius. This place was enormous: it had tons of rooms (a few smaller rooms for the parents and younger cousins, plus one enormous room for the older cousins), as well as an industrial kitchen, a huge common area, and easy access to Lake Poinsett. It was perfect.

For most of the weekend, this reunion was just Grandma Sheila, her five kids and their spouses, and their kids. There was one afternoon in which the extended family filled the common room (cousins of our grandpa’s, etc), but that was just a few hours. The bulk of the weekend was just my aunts, uncles, and cousins hanging out. It was awesome.

During this Bjorklund-palooza weekend, my cousin Taylor put forth a truly brilliant suggestion: why don’t we have an adult cousin reunion? It was great to see everyone, indeed, but the six adult cousins had so much fun – why not do something together?

(Let us reflect for just a moment on how awesome it is that there are six of us that enjoy each other’s company enough to hang out outside of grandma-organized family reunions.)

YES! We all agreed: a cousin reunion would be THE BEST.

Fast forward a few months: it was late 2015, winter to be sure, and my brother Mitch sent out a group Facebook message: wouldn’t it be great to have our first cousin reunion in Boston over St Patrick’s Day?

We responded: yes, it would! We should totally do that!

And for a while, that was that.


Our cousin Taylor said, “I bought my ticket!”


It took a few months of mad Facebook messaging, Airbnb searching, and some minor (ok, major) scheduling miracles, but somehow, all six of us were in Boston on March 17, 2016.

Everything worked out pretty much the best that we possibly could’ve hoped for. Our Airbnb was awesome – we had an entire apartment (two stories!) in Charlestown. This was my first ever experience with Airbnb, and I am ashamed to admit that I dragged my feet a little. Taylor, an experienced Airbnb-er all over the world (literally), assured me that it was the best. He was SO right.

(This trip was also my first experience with Uber, which is also the best. I learned so much about the sharing economy in just a few short days.)

St Patrick’s Day in Boston was rowdy, as one might expect – we went into a couple of downtown bars, smushed shoulder-to-shoulder, had the requisite Guinness, and confirmed that we were all too old (in between shouting “WHAT?!” at each other). Thanks to the miracle that is the smartphone, Taylor and I did some quick Googling and found that there was a bar in Charlestown – not too far from our Airbnb. We Uber-ed our way there to find a teensy bar called Old Sully’s. Taylor recognized it immediately from a movie called The Town. We were in the presence of greatness.

Old Sully’s, believe it or not, ended up being the highlight of the trip. We crossed paths with a handful of locals there, and they were the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Their accents were TEXTBOOK, and they absolutely loved that we were cousins all traveling together. They were the sweetest, most foul-mouthed people I’ve ever met in my life, and they all invited us to stay with them next time we came to Boston. We stayed at Old Sully’s for a couple of hours, dying of laughter and enjoying the company of our new Boston friends.

The rest of trip was chock-full of Boston sights and sounds. We walked the Freedom Trail, climbed the Bunker Hill monument, had pastries at Mike’s Pastry (it’s a thing), did a Sam Adams brewery tour, checked out the Boston Public Library (guess whose idea that was), explored Faneuil Hall, ate in Little Italy, toured the USS Constitution, and took a ferry ride around Boston Harbor. The only time our interests diverged was when Taylor, Mitch, and Melissa went to a hockey game, and Monica, Darrah, and I finished the Freedom Trail, were nearly kidnapped by an Uber driver, and ate dinner at the oldest bar in Massachusetts (the Warren Tavern). On our last night, we had drinks on a balcony overlooking the bay and later dined on seafood fresh out of the same bay.

And we did all of this in only two-and-a-half days.

I can only speak for myself, but I cannot wait for the next cousin trip. Having that time together in Boston was better than we could've ever imagined. Not only did we have a great time exploring a new city, but we had a great time together. We had never had the opportunity for so much uninterrupted cousin time before, and it was truly a smashing success.

Seriously: how lucky am I that some of my favorite people on this earth are my family?

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