Mood: Chillin’ Out
After completing the Las Vegas leg of the trip at break neck speed, we bade farewell to the glitz and glamour of Sin City and headed for San Francisco.
Again arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare, we were faced with unhelpful and uncooperative staff members who refused to let my parents and me check in at the counter; instead, one staff member literally pushed us to the self check-in machines and insisted we complete the self check-in procedure. After trying to explain to the woman repeatedly that I did not wish to use the machine and that it would be far easier to have someone check us in, she almost ejected me from the line for almost bursting into tears when she refused to listen to reason. What should have been a painless procedure that would have taken a counter staff member 5 minutes took us 30 minutes because of the stupid woman’s refusal to listen nor provide customer service.
The stupid woman’s refusal to let us through to the counter staff led to the three of us being seated separately on the plane. For my parents who like to be seated next to each other, this was fortunately a short flight and I managed to secure 2 aisle seats for them, one in front of the other.
Once at the boarding gate, we were treated to the annoying sounds of jingling bells and mechanical music of the pokies that filled the airport. It took some time for my ears to adjust to the noise, but eventually, I was able to block out the headache-inducing sounds and concentrate on my novel.
The flight was mercifully short and without incident. We landed in San Francisco Airport and went in search of Uncle Henry and Auntie Karen, Mum’s youngest brother and sister-in-law.
Uncle Henry and Auntie Karen looked exactly the same as I remembered them, although they weren’t quite as tall as my last memory of them. Then again, it had been a large number of years since I’d seen either of them – they’re possibly the same height as I last saw them; I may have been the one who’s grown taller.
Uncle Henry and Auntie Karen live in Cupertino, about an hour by car to the south east of San Francisco. After picking us up from the airport in Uncle Henry’s rented people mover (he especially hired the car to play chauffeur to my folks and me for the 4 days we were in Cupertino), we headed to Richmond District in San Francisco, where Aunt Magdalen (Mum’s younger sister) lived, to collect her and bring her along to Cupertino.
Aunt Magdalen had arranged to stay with Uncle Henry and Auntie Karen for the next 4 days, so that she may catch up with Mum and see the sights / play tourist with us.
On our way to Cupertino, Aunt Magdalen sat in the back with me and played tour guide, with a running commentary as we drove through San Francisco and towards Cupertino. She pointed out the area where my cousin Veronica and her husband Jason lived (in Sunset District), and the quirky system of street names along 19th Avenue between Golden Gate Park and Larsen Park (every cross street was named according to the alphabet: the first cross street was called Irving Street, then Judah Street, followed by Kirkham Street, then Lawton Street, and so on with Vicente Street and Wowona Street being the final two streets at Larsen Park.
The drive to Cupertino was very scenic and we arrived in next to no time. Cousin Kevin was home to greet us and help us with our bags to our rooms. What a fine young man Kevin has grown up to be – tall and handsome, and gorgeously mannered and smart to boot! I soon found out that Kevin was now a software engineer, working for Fujitsu in Sunnyvale, not far from Cupertino.
The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out over cups of tea and fresh fruit and catching up with everyone. Such a luxury that has so far not been afforded on this trip – a few hours of down time with nothing to rush to!
Cousin Kristina soon joined us at the house as we got ready to head out to dinner. At 23, she was now teaching at a school in Sunnyvale and living in her own apartment near the school. She too is all grown up and so gorgeous.
We headed out to a restaurant nearby, where we met with Auntie Colette & Uncle Albert (Mum’s older half sister & her husband), Uncle Stephen and Auntie Vivienne (Mum’s younger cousin and his wife) for dinner. It was great to see them all – I last saw Auntie Colette and Uncle Albert less than 10 years ago when they paid a visit to Australia. On the other hand, it had been closer to 25 years since I’d seen Uncle Stephen and Auntie Vivienne.
Auntie Colette and Uncle Albert were just as I’d remembered them, albeit with a few more grey hairs. Uncle Stephen was a lot skinnier than I remembered, but Auntie Vivienne looked almost exactly the same!!
At one point over dinner, Auntie Vivienne tried to convince me that she had last seen me when I was about 15 years old, when I proudly sang and danced for her. She remembered a very enthusiastic me performing The Frog Song to her and proudly accepting any and all accolades that followed my animated performance. I then spent the next 10 minutes denying I would have been 15 at the time of the recital; I may have been 7 or 8, but definitely not 15. A compromise was struck – as I have no recollection of this incident, we agreed I may have been about 10. How embarrassing!!!
Dinner was delicious and eaten at a lovely leisurely pace. My mum thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her family. I made sure there were at least a few photos taken to remember the evening by. It is all so rare for us to catch up with each other, when most of our extended family living in the US or Canada or Hong Kong, and us being so far away in Australia.
The family reunion was over all too soon. Auntie Colette and Uncle Albert, and Uncle Stephen and Auntie Vivienne promised to try and visit us in Australia some day soon, and we parted ways. Kristina came back to the house with us and I ensured there was a photo of the two of us for my albums.
It was close to midnight by the time we headed to bed. With Uncle Henry and Auntie Karen planning our sightseeing excursions for the next few days, I knew I was in good hands. Plus I was really excited about catching up with my cousins Christopher and Veronica and meeting Veronica’s husband Jason for the first time, hopefully for dinner the next day. So many things to look forward to!