Just a few of the people who make us feel like family…
My divorce hearing was over a week ago now. It feels like a lifetime ago already. Shaky-legged I walked through a door in my life and it closed. And I am content with the new place I am. I am more than content.
At the time Juan and I separated, one of the most bitter emotions I felt was the loss of a sense of “family”. I had grown up in a happy, if normally dysfunctional, nuclear family. Two parents, two kids, two cats, two cars in the garage. That was family to me.
Living far away from both sets of our parents Juan and I had been family to each other. Max completed our picture. When they placed him in our arms and we looked at the perfect picture–a mom, a dad, a child, we felt whole.
With Juan gone, that first year, it felt like we were never quite enough, as though something was missing. It was just the me and the baby at dinner, me and the little one at bedtime. I felt a little like an amputee. There was a tingling sensation there, reminding us that part of us had been cut off, that something was missing. But over time I healed. It happened so slowly I barely noticed it was happening.
Like a crab who loses a claw and regrows a stronger one, we have redefined family. Now our “family” includes people of all different ages and races, people who let themselves into our homes as we let ourselves into theirs. We dealt with the loneliness in our home by opening it wide open, by claiming others, blurring boundaries.
Almost every week we are eating dinner communally with some part of our urban family. There is always bread in the center of the table, wine being poured, hugs hello and goodbye.
When all the kids got lice last week, we used it as an excuse to order in Thai food. Later we sat like monkeys grooming our young, in it together–community. A broken washing machine in one house is not a cause for despair (or maybe only a little despair). It is an excuse to do a laundry party at another house and to sit and play guitar while the clothes tumble.
Late in the evening last night, my dear “brother” brought me to a party of his good friends and did what I needed someone to do, something that I had dreaded for years. He made me get out there. Yup…He took by the hand and with a sense of humor that only he could get away with–he introduced me as an adorable single woman, looking to meet someone interesting. Did they know anyone? Yes it was baptism by fire, but I needed the little kick in the pants to get myself into a new frame of mind.
Sometimes family is a place to retreat, and sometimes family is what propels you out into the world. But family is the place where you go when you need to be reminded of your best self, when you need to fill up your heart, when you need to recharge.
At dinner last night, I told the newest member of my family that if and when I do meet someone and fall in the love they will need to fit into this crazy, messy, huge and spontaneous family. We giggled thinking about how this poor guy would rap his head around it, me and all my beautiful baggage.
For its not just “Love me, love my child.”
Its more like “Love me, love my child, love my dear soul sisters and their kind husbands, my guitar teacher, my guitar teacher’s wife, my across the street neighbors, my mentor and his wife, my comrades at work, my housemate…and all their children…Love me, love all my dear ones. Love me…love my family, my big huge messy urban–we ain’t related but we’re family family…”
Good luck guy…who ever you are.