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Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind. -Lilo and Stitch

I love Lilo and Stitch. But its message never got through to me. My family is the one thing I've been trying the hardest to leave behind.

But not all of it. Until today, my dad was the one exception to my rule. Today reminded me that he's not the only "good" family member, and there are several more worth caring for.

After a lunch at KFC and a long walk with my dad, we met with my favorite uncle at a coffee shop, and my favorite aunt joined in. Three brothers reunited, like in the Tintin story (three out of eight, in this case). I don't see them very often, yet I owe them so much.

My uncle is the cool uncle everyone wishes they had. He bought me my first decent computer, got me an internship at his truck parts dealership, and his travel stories awoke my curiosity for the world beyond. He has traveled all over the globe; he has raised and lost fortunes; he has been a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a husband till death do us part; he has had the fullest possible life and he is still as healthy as a 85-year-old man can be.

My aunt is the loving aunt everyone wishes they had. She took care of me as a kid whenever my dad couldn't; she kept a watchful eye on my education; she always picked the greatest birthday gifts. She has been a dedicated teacher for fifty years, yet she looks younger than anyone woul.

The talk was fantastic. We discussed airlines, family history, It was the first time I had a real conversation with them since I was a teenager. Having read up on transactional psychology the night before, I could tell we were addressing each other in an adult-to-adult manner now. My dad, who had always lamented my lack of a proper degree, called me an engineer. I didn't have to play a role or live up to any expectations; they respected me. They loved me. And I think I love them back.

I even had the quintessential ace conversation with my uncle:

"Don't forget to let me know once you're expecting your first kid. I can never have too many grandkids."
"That's very unlikely to happen."
"You never know! Sometimes things will happen after a party, and boom! 9 months later..."
"That's... not my style."
"Well, you gotta have an orientation."

I got parting gifts: a map of the northern lands and a set of personal care accessories for men. I'm 27 and I had never been treated like a grown man by my own kin before - only by bankers and coworkers. I even got hugs. Wow.

As the cherry on top of my day of wonders, a quartet of street musicians sneaked into my little corner of the subway, dressed in highly conspicuous bohemian attire. Their music was a series of snappy 80's street jazz pieces. It was glorious and it made my world feel like a whimsical animated movie. You could picture the violinist skipping on Parisian cobblestone, the clarinetist waltzing close behind, the accordion dictating the troupe's joyful pace, and the singer leading them all through pulsing boulevards.

Since musicians are not allowed in the subway, they had to be sneaky; every time the train stopped and the doors opened, the accordion froze and the clarinet turned to a low whistling. Passengers would tilt their heads through doors and windows to scan the surroundings while the band laid low. As soon as the coast was clear, the party kicked back into full gear.

Even after they were all done and the train was heading towards the last station, the clarinet player kept playing little improvisations, as if he couldn't help the music flowing through him.
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