I am way, way too tired to make today's blog post anything special, but I had a nice day so I want to at least give it a decent wrap up. My parents keep me out way too late here in North Dakota! It's affecting my blogging!
My mom just mumbled from the other side of the hotel room, "you're still gonna do that tonight?" "Yes Mom, I have to." "Okay, tell 'em I said yo." So. My mom says yo.
This morning we headed over to my grandma's house for an early lunch - she made us borscht soup and sandwiches with her homemade rolls and salami. Then we jumped in the car and drove the hour and a half out to the small town my aunt Colleen lives in. We had a nice little visit with her, my cousin Corina and Colleen's new husband Chauncey.
The weirdest part about this trip, by far, is how many of my little cousins are suddenly so grown up. Corina was always one of the little kids running around whenever we'd visit in the past, but she's 14 now and I was surprised by how grown up she was. It took her awhile to warm up to me, but then she got out this notebook and a pen and said, "You know, I should probably get your autograph since you're sort-of-kind-of famous. Also some of the kids at school watch your videos and don't believe you're my cousin."
While adorable, this is the very reason I needed to come home and visit. Since a lot of this weird internet "fame" stuff has happened in the last two to three years, I just had this horrible image of my relatives losing touch with me as their cousin/niece/whatever and thinking I'm out of reach or something. I was too busy touring last summer to come home and visit, but that wasn't by choice. I was so homesick for North Dakota while my parents were here last year and I was on roflcoptour. And while I bonded with Corina today over knowing people like Shane Dawson and Smosh (boy did she think I was cool for having met them) I was glad to be able to remind her that I'm still just her cousin.
Also, we bonded over Pokémon. She told her mom, "see? Tina likes Pokémon. And you said I was a nerd." I had to interject though, telling her, "Oh, no, don't be confused; we're still nerds. I've just embraced it."
After a couple of hours we had to head out to make it to Medora in time to meet up with MORE relatives. The problem with having such a big family is that even though we have a whole week here, sometimes we only get a few hours with each branch of the family to make time for everyone. We drove the 20 miles to Medora (this adorable little historic town - has anyone been there?) and met with my Uncle Cheekster and cousins Megan and Holly. Those two were both also in the group of cousins who grew the eff up since I'd seen them last. Their school starts again tomorrow and Megan is going to be a senior and Holly is going to be a freshman. The biggest shock was seeing eyeliner and styled hair and cell phones in their hands. Kids these days, I tell ya. xD
We ate at this place in town and I decided to try "fleischkuekle" - which translates literally as "meat cookie" (as Cheekster told me with a chuckle). It's essentially hamburger wrapped in a big doughy casing and deep fried. I had to take a picture of the menu to remember how to spell it. Also, my dad made me order it myself, which was hilarious, as my knowledge of German is much, much more limited than his (which is also relatively limited). We left my dad to bond with his brother and my mom and I took the girls around to go shopping in the cute Medora gift shops. We didn't really buy anything other than ice cream cones a bit later (I got huckleberry, mmm) but wandering around one of my favorite little towns was all I really wanted out of the afternoon, anyway.
We said goodbye to them when it started getting dark, and we drove up to the Burning Hills Amphitheater with my Grandma to see the Medora Musical. You wouldn't think this tiny town in North Dakota would have such a big attraction, but the Musical is amazing and even on a slow night like tonight, there were 700 people there. It's in this great big outdoor theatre where the backdrop is the actual Dakota badlands, and the whole thing is just so cute and fun. It's a combination of nostalgic "growing up in the midwest" stuff, educational facts about Teddy Roosevelt and ND itself, country music and clogging and fun dancing and modern music. I absolutely adore it. We used to go when I was little, and back then my dream was to grow up and be a Burning Hills Dancer. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that's what I would do.
It's kind of funny how this musical (and more importantly just being here in North Dakota with my parents) can make me nostalgic for a life I never knew. I love the stories from my parents about growing up here. I love the prairie and I love these small towns and all the people who are so nice and the "old west" feel of everything and how everyone knows each other. I definitely have a certain pride for being born here, even though we moved away before I even turned one.
It's strange because it's not like I could ever experience the North Dakota my parents even knew, because times have changed and their friends are older and places they loved have gone out of business or closed and people have died and everyone is older now, but I like to pretend when I'm here that I can be part of it all. And since I was born here and everyone remembers me (albeit a tiny infant version of me) I feel like I at least was there for a tiny bit of it. And that's enough for this place to feel like home, in a strange way I can't even really explain.
Flights taken: 21
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