Mid-Vacation Toast

From a computer I'm probably not supposed to be using at my lakeshore hotel in Two Harbors, Minnesota, I offer a multi-faceted toast. I have no drink in my hand (yet). But I know that I'll be raising glasses so many times tonight that I'll start to wonder what came first - the toast (as in bread) or the toast (as in a reason to celebrate by drinking more alcohol). Anyway, I propose a toast!!

*To once dysfunctional families that grow older and closer and multiply into one big mess of a conversational, crazy, intriguing half-drunken reunited branch on an ever-growing tree. Nothing reminds you of who you are like family, and this dynamic fascinates me every time I find myself surrounded at one of these gatherings. Collecting life updates like trading cards and giving my own like a book report can be daunting and impersonal, but luckily, this formality doesn't last too long, and before you know it, you're getting to know somebody you thought you knew five years ago. Because my friends have become my family in Los Angeles, I had all but thought myself immune to the power of extended family bonding. But the nostalgic retrospective, the uncertain future, and the person looking you right in the eye the same way they did when you were eight years old - it all starts to alter your perspective. Above all, family reunions are about sharing that common denominator, and whether we love it or hate it, it puts us in our place before we're all scattered back to our respective corners of the country. And as the DJ's sound guys test the Beatles "In My Life" as I write, I can only look forward to the next time our common denominator is thrown together again.

*To two cultures, Chinese and American, intertwined tonight in the name of celebrating two brilliant people bonded to a lifetime in love. To accentuate this toast, I offer a quote from Billy Crystal that I saw on one of the bride's wedding cards: "The moment you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." And no, you didn't read that wrong...that was Billy Crystal.

*To my baby cousin Miles. Even though he's only six months old, I can tell just by knowing his parents that he will become an amazing person with excellent taste in music.

*To the stars in the sky. Last night I found myself happily drunk on the lakeshore, marveling at them for the first time since my memory stopped serving me. Los Angeles forgets about the real stars.


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