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The Kunz Family Reunion
July 16-18, 2010
By Andrew Kunz

Back in February, while celebrating my 20th birthday at my Dad’s house, I
heard from my Grandmother that the Kunz family was holding another of
their prestigious family reunions. Immediately interested, I queried the
date, location, and any other information I deemed necessary. My
Girlfriend, who was sitting next to me at the time, was greatly
interested in the event as well. We’d only been dating for a few weeks
at that point, but I decided that, come July, she’d be ready to venture
into the heart of my Dad’s side of the family and meet some of its more,
interesting, members. Luckily, my father still had a copy of our family
portrait that we’d taken four years ago at our previous reunion, and I
was able, with the help of my Grandmother, list a few of the people that
she may or may not meet.
I was slightly embarrassed by my appearance in the photo, with my ripped
red T-Shirt, messy brown hair and faded blue base-ball cap, but she
ensured me that I was “cute”. Being the kind of person who hates
portraits of himself taken by other people, I disagreed, but that wasn’t
good enough. Unfortunately, my Dad also had some older photos of me
along the mantle that I showed off as well, dating back to when I was
still months old and had no hair. She was enjoying laughing at how
“cute” I was in my childhood, but it was short lived when I reminded her
she’d be in the family portrait this year; she hates getting her
picture taken too.
During the following months, my Girlfriend talked about how excited she
was to be attending the event, while I shared what stories I could
remember of our last reunion. I didn’t have much to tell, being a loner
then, but she still found it entertaining. I struggled at work to get
that weekend off, being told it was the “busiest time of the year”,
which I could see being a problem, but when the student I alternate with
got a week off for the same reason, I became frustrated. In my
frustration, I accidently requested the wrong days off, asking for the
Monday instead of the Friday. After another freak-out on my part, I
managed to swap shifts with the other employee, securing my availability
for Friday.
I thought all was good, but of course my Mother had to step in and make
her two cents known. At first I was annoyed, but after having the issue
at hand explained, I fully understood her concern. We were required to
bring an extra tent for my Girlfriend, which she was to share with
either my Aunt, or my Cousin, otherwise her Mother wouldn’t allow her
attendance. Once it had been settled, nothing stood in our way, or so I
thought. I’d forgotten that it was close to a four hour drive from where
we lived, which neither of us were looking forward to. Prepared with
iPods, books, Gameboys, and our own stories, we managed to survive the
ordeal, and arrive at our destination, having only made one wrong turn
on the way.

Butterflies filled my stomach as we pulled into the driveway and made
our way toward the parking area, where we were greeted by smiling faces
and several barking dogs. Unsure of who was talking to us, my Girlfriend
and I stood quietly, hand in hand, only speaking when spoken to; upset
to hear that my Cousin’s hadn’t arrived yet. Following my Dad deeper
onto the lot, we met more and more people, some of which I remembered
from our previous reunion, some I didn’t know at all. My Aunt showed up
then with my Grandmother, in her spiffy new red Toyota. Relieved to
finally know someone, I lightened up and started to really enjoy myself.
After carrying our coolers to the bar area, my Girlfriend and I
ventured around the property to see what we could see.
The owners stayed in the two story, white house in the middle of the
lot, connected to the road by a fenced area for their dogs. An above
ground pool was nestled in the middle of their deck, filled with tubes
and other toys. Behind their house was a large barn which the owners
used as a kennel for their business. It had been transformed from a
simple barn to our dining area for the weekend, which included a bar,
several long tables draped with some kind of material, a kitchen, and a
stage where the live entertainment would be Saturday night. Corn fields
surrounded the lot as far as the eye could see, eventually transitioning
to forest and then into the beach.
Our next mission was to set up the tents, which proved to be bothersome
with all the apples spread across the ground; of course we picked the
spot under the apple trees. It seemed like a good spot in theory, with
the temperature being high and the trees providing shade all day long,
but when the temperature dropped Saturday night, the shade wasn’t so
enjoyable anymore. Once the tents were up and mattresses were pumped, my
Girlfriend and I hung with my Cousins Connor and Justin, along with my
Brother Adam, until the two of us deciding to take a dip in the pool.
I’m the kind of person who can’t walk into water, be it a pool or at the
beach; I need to dive in and get every part of my body wet at the same
time, or I’ll just stand there with my feet wet. With that in mind, you
can imagine how difficult it was for me to dive into a pool that was too
shallow for diving and was full of small children that I couldn’t
really swear around. After a long few minutes of sitting on the edge of
the pool, I tried to jump onto an empty tube that was floating by; of
course I failed miserably and sunk to the bottom. I tried with no avail
to get onto the large tube from in the water, but wound up soaking my
Girlfriend, who was still sitting on the edge of the pool, during my
attempts. As the sun began to set, the air got colder and forced us out
of the pool and into dry clothing.
Dinner was served shortly after, consisting of barbecued chicken breasts
and a variety of different salads that in all honesty, didn’t look very
appetizing. I decided to try the broccoli salad anyway, and to my
surprise, found it very good. We stayed in the dining area after we
finished, talking with whoever wanted to talk, being introduced to
people who were just arriving or returning from town, or returning from a
long hike to the beach in my Brother’s case. A large white board had
been mounted on the wall, displaying a slideshow of photos taken over
the years from previous reunions, weddings, parties, or just gets
together. We stayed there for a while longer, before breaking off to our
separate tents and tried to sleep through the loud music.

I awoke the next morning, wheezing and coughing heavily; I have asthma,
although it doesn’t bother me as much now as it did when I was younger.
Quickly locating my inhaler from my backpack, which I made sure was the
first thing I packed Friday morning, and ventured to the barn to find a
bottle of water. I had no idea what time it was, but I was the only one
awake, aside from the dogs, who decided to bark as loud as they could at
me as I walked by. I sat in the barn for a while, drinking my water,
which surprisingly lasted me quite some time. Normally I drink my
beverage of choice so fast you wouldn’t even know I had a drink to begin
with. I’m apparently just like my Uncle Shawn; the two of us just open
our throats and don’t even taste what it is we’re drinking. Once I was
sure I could breathe again, I returned to my tent, and immediately fell
back asleep.
We didn’t do much after I awoke a couple of hours later; we ate some
muffins and bagles for breakfast, and then sat around our tents until a
large group of us decided to head down to my Uncle Franks house and go
to the beach. I again had trouble diving into the water with all the
small and large rocks covering the ground and large waves knocking us
over. I was forced to walk until the ground turned to sand before I
could dive in, but after that we had a blast. My Cousin brought a
Frisbee with him, but the damn thing kept sinking and we eventually lost
it amongst the waves. As the day progressed, a large storm cloud
floated over the beach and let lose a barrage of heavy rain onto us,
forcing us back to our vehicles and to the on-going party down the road.
After changing into dry clothes, we were informed the photographer had
arrived and we were all needed to gather up outside the barn for the
family portraits. She started out with the oldest of the family: Uncle
Frank, Bill, and my Grandmother, and then branched off to their
children, and then us, and then everyone together. People were arriving
for the portraits late, even though the schedule said five o’clock
sharp, so we had to stand still for a few more minutes so she could take
pictures with them in the group. Once we were free, we headed into the
barn where some of the live entertainment started practicing, or tuning
their instruments.
I was amazed at how incredible the bassist and the guitarist were, but
they didn’t stay on stage for very long after we took our seats. Shortly
after they got off stage we were told to move to a different table, and
after picking those seats, were told that we’d need to move again once
dinner was served, as that table was going to be reserved for the people
who had speeches. Luckily we didn’t have to move, as the table we were
sitting at had already been deemed the “Kiddie” table, so we just had to
put up with all the young kids while we ate. Dinner consisted of roast
pork, freshly cut from the 180 pound pig they’d been cooking all day,
and the same variety of salads as the night before. Tea, Coffee, and
Cake was served for dessert, and man was it delicious.

We returned to our tents and sat in our usual circle, consisting of my
Cousins Connor, Justin, Kyle, and Chris. Michelle and one other girl I
didn’t know joined us shortly after. We laughed and played some music
until the live entertainment started. My Girlfriend and I dispersed from
our group and took seats in the barn and waited for the concert to
begin, and when it did, it was rockin’. The first group to play, I
believe called themselves “The Outlaws” but I may be mistaken. I
recognized a few of the songs they preformed, but didn’t know the words
to them. After they finished their set, the girl I didn’t know that had
joined our circle earlier, went on stage and played a few acoustic songs
including Free Falling by Tom Petty, and Landslide by Stevie Nicks or
the Dixie Chicks, as they both have a version of the song.
Up next was the Power Trio, as my Dad calls them, but I didn’t catch
what they called themselves either. The bassist and the guitarist that
we watched practicing earlier in the day were in this band and I knew
right away I was going to really enjoy their set. They played heavier
music than the first two acts, the kind of music I like, including:
Spirit of the Radio by Rush, Highway Star by Deep Purple, a couple
Beatles songs, and Fly at Night by Chilliwack, which sounds an awful lot
like a Neil Young song. Once they finished their set, the regular music
started again, and everyone headed their separate ways. My Girlfriend
and I stayed where we were, singing along with some of the songs that
came on, which included: Jammin’ by Bob Marley, Carry on my Wayward Son
by Kansas, Takin’ Care of Business by BTO, and many more. Hours passed
before we decided to head to bed, but the party didn’t stop after we
left. Another group came on and played Stairway to Heaven by Led
Zeppelin and some other songs I don’t know the name of. The Power Trio
returned to the stage and melted some more faces after that, and somehow
I managed to fall asleep during their encore.
The next morning we packed up our tents, ate what was left of the
breakfast buffet, and braced ourselves for the four hour drive home. I’m
already excited for the next reunion, even if it is another three or
four years away.


Its been quite some time since I've made a post, and to be honest, I kind of did completely forget about this place. I've been so busy with work and life in general (and by life I mean addictive video games) that I didn't have time to really write anymore.
So, this past weekend, I got to talk to a really interesting man on my Father's side of the family, someone who really got me interested in writing again, journalism in particular, which gave birth to this, my very first, full length, journal entry article thingy (not sure what to call it, lol) about my weekend. Hopefully you enjoy reading it, and as always, any criticism is welcomed.

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