One of the most important aspects of my life is found outside the confines of my personal empire. It had been a discussion for quite some time that I should fly out and reconnect with this missing half, encouraged by a loving grandmother and my desire, the trip was booked. Badly sunburned from a previous adventure, packed for the unfamiliar, and ready to meet family I had not seen in too many years, I was off. Two planes and six hours later I was greeted, with open arms, to Ohio by my grandmother and great aunt. The one-week reunion consisted of, among other things, great barbecue, late night family gatherings, scorching humidity, and a two day trip around Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie. If you had asked me what I expected to gain from this trip, or why I am taking a week out of my So-Cal summer to visit what one person described as essential strangers, the answer would be a blank stare. In all honesty, I didn’t fly six hours across the country with an agenda, I just kind of did. I did it for family. What I learned, and ultimately gained from this trip was an elevated sense of understanding, compassion, courage and love from a new perspective.

Photograph and content by Alex Rager