In Colorado, you have “relatives” and in Kentucky you have “kin.” So what happens when a group of people from both states work together and play together so often they consider each other family? Well, the Colorado folk now have kin, and the Kentucky folk now have relatives! And what happens when you get adopted by this affectionately slapdash family? You become “rela-kin.” Or, at least this is what I learned late one night last week in the lobby lounge.
At the end of a long day that consisted of 8 hours of my day (sometimes night) job, followed by a few hours getting to know the life of the room service employees (a story chosen by Facebook fans), it was 11pm and I had just settled down at a table next to the piano: laptop open, notebook to the left of my computer, a glass of wine to my right and lilting tunes sprinkled through the air. The plan was to get a little writing done and then head home.
Elly arrives to my right with a group of five. A boisterous, laughing group, they push two smaller tables together and the person nearest me leans over and says, “You’re not doing work are you?”
I laugh, “No! Yes! Sort of…” and explain what it is I do. Another member of the party interjects, “Well, it sounds like work and it’s too late to be working so we’re not going to let you get any done.” And they didn’t. The next two hours flew by.
All five had been in Milwaukee for a few days now, as part of a boating law conference. “Ah, yes,” I tease, “because Colorado and Kentucky are known for their expansive waterways.” I wink. They laugh. Friends through the conferences they’ve attended over the years, they easily tease one another and laugh heartily at anything remotely amusing. I like them a lot. The couple from Kentucky had managed to attend a Green Bay Packers game and a Brewers game. The Rockies had just beat the Brewers, which pleased the folks from Colorado greatly.
We talk regional life, exploring the topic of skiing in Colorado (I’ve never been on skis). I’m informed of the best places to go: Sylvester is more family-oriented but Steamboat has fluffier snow, and good tree skiing. No matter where you go, night skiing is the most magical – lights strung up along the trees that line the slopes, glittering off the crystalline powder as it sprays into the air, glinting in the moonlight. Since Kentucky is known for its bourbon, I inquire about the best whiskeys out of their state. The top brands are Woodford Reserve (Bourbon), Heaven Hill, Four Roses (a craft distillery started in 1888 that recently went into wider distribution), and Buffalo Trace. They add, “Though, if anyone ever offers you ‘Pappy Van Winkle,’ don’t say no. It’s a 23yr old bourbon that is a distinct and memorable spirit experience.”
Several glasses of wine later, it’s 1am and I gather up my belongings to head out. Throughout our jocular conversation, we touched on much more personal issues, including family life, travels and personal histories, so when it came time for me to leave, as we say our goodbyes, they add, “You know, now you’re family. You’re,” pausing for a moment, “rela-kin!”
Rela-kin, indeed. I think it might be nearly time for a road trip. Colorado, Kentucky, here I come!