Every year my whole family goes on vacation together - and there is always a beach involved. Most years it's just a week but this year was different. Since we had to go through Virginia to go to the Outer Banks, we decided it would be fun to make a pit stop at my aunt's house. She has so many acres of land, lives on a creek and it is very private. Kind of like a little slice of paradise. I hadn't seen my aunt in almost 3 years (my whole family is scattered all over the eastern half of the country so we don't see each other often). We had decided we were going to stop there before I started on this journey to change my life. Now, I was even more excited to see her and show her the new me I was creating. She said she hardly recognized me when I got out of the car - what an amazing feeling!! It was the 4th of July, I was with my family, and this is the first real day of my vacation - and it started out with my aunt making me feel like a million dollars :)
In addition to my aunt, I have a cousin who lives a little over an hour away from her. My cousin and I, over the years, had become really good friends, despite the distance between us. We are only a year apart in age and are definitely related - we share so many qualities, personality traits and just get along so well. As teeneagers, before the days of cell phones and instant messenger (yes, that makes me feel old), we were pen pals. We became a part of each other's lives the only way we could since we lived 12 hours apart. We eventually saw each other a few years later for the first time in over 10 years and we just clicked. Over the next few years, we made efforts to get together when we could (lots of weddings helped us out). I hadn't been able to see her for almost 3 years as well (lots of reasons) so when she found out I was going to be that close, she decided she and her husband would definitely make the trip. Talk about excited! I couldn't wait!
Our time with the family was the best. My aunt is pretty silly (but entertaining all the same) and I was so happy that my mom was able to spend some time with her sister. We drove around her property in the "pope mobile", played with my nephew and nieces, talked and just hung out. Imagine my (and my siblings) surprise when later that afternoon another one of my mom's sisters and her husband showed up! It was like a mini family reunion! We had a cookout, set off fireworks, celebrated my mom's birthday (4 months late) the only way her sisters know how and just enjoyed each other's company. And we still had another day to enjoy.
The next morning my cousin and I went for a nice walk up the dirt road (yes it is really a dirt road), got to catch up and just talk for a long time. It's amazing how much we have in common. And it was so fun to share my journey thus far with her. We spent the rest of the day hanging out as a family and it felt like we had never been apart. So much fun! We went to dinner that night and, for the first time, I was fully comfortable in a sundress. I even made my dad take my picture because I was so excited :) Look below for the picture (and one of me and my sisters)
While I was sad to leave Aunt Mo's, I had so many wonderful memories! I was pumped to head to the beach and I actually wasn't worried about being in my swimsuit! Stay tuned to read more about the rest of this incredible trip!!