Saturday, August 13, 2011

All Grown Up

My 22 year old niece, Caitlin, who recently graduated from college, just spent a week with me traveling around northern California. Before this trip, she had never been away from the East Coast. In fact, she had never even flown in an airplane.

I wasn't sure how spending an entire week with my niece would work out. I have been living in California since before she was born. In the past, I would go back to Connecticut once or twice a year to visit my family, take the nieces and nephew to an amusement park, or the beach, or the movies. The day after Thanksgiving, we would have a "family day" with all of my siblings, and their kids, and play board games, make cookies, and play ping-pong in the basement. But the "kids" were always together - Caitlin, Michael, and Chloe; Chloe and Caitlin; Caitlin and Michael. Caitlin and I never spent much one-on-one time together.

I took Caitlin to see the requisite Golden Gate Bridge and redwood trees and ocean beaches; I could have played tour guide to any distant relative and had an "OK" vacation. But I was pleasantly surprised at how well Caitlin and I got along. Not only were we good traveling companions, we also enjoyed being in each other's company 24X7 for a whole week.

It turns out that Caitlin likes to do many of the same things I do - hiking in the woods, walking along the beach. That certainly helped our vacation compatibility. But in addition, I found that my niece has grown into a funny, intelligent adult who is a joy to be around. We had many interesting conversations, and quite a few hilariously funny ones. And that made all the difference in turning a "nice" vacation into a great one.

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