I just got back from a trip to northern Virginia—where my cousin lives with his wife and their daughter. It was a super-fun vacation for several reasons, which I have listed (oh-so-thoughtfully) below.
1) This is my favorite cousin. He is smart and fast and sarcastic and wonderful. We are a year apart, age-wise, and we grew up being mistaken for twins (because we look similar, because we act similarly, because we talk the same, because we laugh at the same things). It was good to see him again, and it was good to be with an old friend who’s not afraid to remind me, periodically, that I am still the same ridiculous five year old I was back-in-the-day—official sounding degrees and titles notwithstanding.
2) GOT TO GO TO MANNASSAS. I am a historian in disguise, so seeing the field of Manasses (or, as we call it correctly in the South, Bull Run) was a marvelous treat. My cousin and his family live about 15 miles away from the battlefield park, and he was kind enough to drive me to the site so that I could geek out over the monuments and the stories. There was a pretty cool movie at the beginning, narrated by Richard Dreyfuss (mmmm, Stand By Me references). Also, the field is huge. Virginians, as you may or may not know, are very excited about being from Virginia, and you cannot swing a sneaker in Virginia without hitting a Civil War monument of some kind. That said, they are better at preserving old hysterical markers than a lot of other Southern places (for the being excited part, as well as the cashflow into those areas—but that’s another story entirely).
3) Got to read and hear a lot about Stonewall Jackson. Please see pictures below. Bull Run (or First Manasses, you Yankee freaks) was where he got his nickname—his actual name was Thomas Jonathan Jackson. This is kind of a big deal for me. I am from the South, and it is a very Southern thing to claim some sort of relation to one or another Southern general. In my family, it’s Stonewall (oh my god, thank you that it’s not Nathan Bedford Forrest, that fucknut bitch). We are, according to my dear and earnest mother, related to Stonewall’s niece or nephew or something. (He had a daughter, but she died as an infant. And he himself was killed by friendly fire outside of Chancellorsville in 1863—just fyi). Anyway—yea for close AND distant family!
This is the monument to Stonewall. It is very tall.
This is my dear cousin standing in front of the monument. He is not as excited about Stonewall as I am. Different sides of the family, you see...
And this is Me and Stonewall!!! It was very windy, but I did not mind.
4) Got to meet my new cousin. She will be two and a half this week, and she is fucking brilliant. Runs in the family.
5) Got to see my dear uncle and aunt that I never get to see. I was a surprise for them—and it was marvelous to laugh with them again.
6) Got to ride a train again… which is always awesome.
7) Got to see Undercover Brother—possibly my new favorite movie. Favorite excerpt:
Conspiracy Brother (played by Dave Chappelle): “Somebody get me a pillowcase—I’m joining the Klan.”
8) Got mistaken for a local: we went to walk around this cute little historical town called Middleburg (which I kept calling Middle Earth, much to my dear cousin’s chagrin). At one of the stores, the lady behind the counter mistook me.
Lady: Your face is familiar. You’ve been in here before, right?
Me: Well, actually, no. But I am related to some people that live here, and they have probably brought other members of my family in.
Lady: Oh, really? How nice.
Me: Yeah. We all kind of look alike. You know--big head, big teeth, kinda intense.
Lady: (noncommittal grunt)