One of the best perks of being a newly minted adult is getting to start experiencing your family members as people in their own rights. Becoming friends with my family members is amazing.
In the last year I’ve heard about decades worth of suicide attempts, kidnappings, and near death experiences. It’s like a 10-season telenovela that I conveniently slept through and now I’m catching it in syndication.
Learning about the rest of my family (dead or alive) is amazing and provides such incredible context for the dynamics that I know now.
And given all that,
I remember that when I was looking at colleges I really wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t too close. There was a big, wonderful university right near me and as far as I could see I had a 50/50 chance of getting in if I applied. I hemmed and I hawed for months about whether I wanted to apply.
If I applied and I didn’t get in then it would be a huge hit to my ego.
If I applied and I did get in then I would have to break my own and my family’s hearts by saying out loud that I wanted to go far enough away not to feel guilted into staying at home.
In my memory I struggled with this decision silently for months. I was embarrassed by how selfish the need was. I was needed at home. And I would choose my freedom over the needs of my family.
Last week I got dinner with my aunt and uncle, the tellers of such fantastic tales. My aunt casually mentioned my struggle to choose to get away. Apparently I had solicited her opinion during that time. Apparently I had told her all those concerns and how conflicted I felt. I became a contributing member of our family lore. And she remembered. Because I was important.
It sounds so silly but it felt so good, so validating to be reminded that I mattered, because I was a part of something. And always will be.
Every thanksgiving I scroll through my feeds alternately yawning and misting as only a true New Yorker could. You’re so grateful for the friends that got you through this year. You’re wishing for world peace. You’re so thrilled to be with your biological family or grateful to have found your logical ones.
And I’m happy for you but it can start to feel a bit cliche.
This year, for the first time in a while I have something new to be thankful for. Something that is truly, surprising. Instead of becoming grateful for something that I’ve had for a while I’m became, on this day, something new to be grateful for.
I’m a valued, adult, decision-making member of my family.
Duh, right? No.
I’m no longer a kid who doesn’t need to know about the hardships and abuse that are the backdrop behind confusing actions.
I’m now a person who’s opinion is requested and respected. Who can hold court, translate English to English, and mediate large scale arguments.
It sounds small but it feels huge to me.
To have a family that values the ideas of all its members and works together as a team would have been enough to be grateful for. And to be invited to sit at the grown-ups table and help perpetuate that inclusiveness, well it’s an even better present than the great socks I got.
But really, scale of 1 to 10.
People tell me that I jump too quickly. About the people I date.
I usually know pretty quickly if you’re someone I want to see again or not. I can be convinced to give more chances of course, but it’s rare that I’m wrong about the quality that concerned me. And then it’s that quality that tears us asunder. I can convince myself to keep seeing you in the hopes that the things I like start to outweigh that thing, but I can also jump ship because I know that the thing that I need will indeed be a thing I need.
So don’t tell me that I’m doing it wrong. I’m doing it exactly right for me. And I’m saving us both the heartache of letting you think I’m going to fall for you.
People say that relationships are made up of compromises. They are. And it’s your job as your own keeper to be on the lookout for the other person asking you to give up one thing too many, the thing that would make you cease to be you. That last straw. And call Mercy on it. Throw the cargo overboard and jump and pray that you float. Cause that ship isn’t for you anymore, so you might as well get out now.
Sometimes it’s easier than others.
So I’m not selfish, I just know what I’m capable of. Every new person I drag over the brambles of my heart teaches me something new about what I can and can’t accept.
I’m not selfish, I’m stronger.
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
How hard can that be?
How much effort does one person need to put into learning how to be loved.
When someone was in love with me my breath was taken away every time he said it. Was that me not knowing how to be loved or just enjoying the feeling? Getting acclimated?
The media makes a big deal out of learning how to be loved. Do I not think it’s a big deal because it isn’t really a big deal, or because I just haven’t had to learn it yet?
Polling the audience here. Did you have to learn? Was it as difficult as Grey’s Anatomy would have you think?
A wonderful old friend of mine (who I don’t see enough) recommended to me the other day that I should start listening to the Dear Sugar podcast.
She was right. It is delightful.
And the first episode that I listened to was #10, about friendships. In the episode a woman tells the story of her best friend helping her through the death of her mother. The feeling of having that best friend right alongside her in the first row with the family of the deceased.
And I realized that I never wrote an ode to the amazing friends who crossed the country to be with me when my father passed.
When I was just starting high school I befriended two other girls who happened to live in California. It’s a long story. But apparently, when our friendship developed and they found out that my dad was ill they decided that when he passed, whenever it was, wherever they were, they would come. I didn’t know this at the time. I only found out when they called me from the airport “We’re on our way!”
They sat right behind me and my family at the service, they answered every question I could think of, helped me pick out what to wear to the cemetery. They did all the things that a friend could do.
And I just wanted to say thanks. Because they’re amazing. Because friendship is an important and beautiful gift. We should all appreciate it more.
The other night I hung out with a very charming guy. Pretty, Jewish, artistic, great taste in music, incredible dog.
Really incredible dog.
And I think I fell in love with his pup. When I met her she brought me a toy to throw and every time she would bring it she would tug on it. Soon I realized that if I didn’t tug back then she would be forced to just drop it for me. We trained each other.
At one point I put one hand on the toy and looked at her. And she looked back in understanding and let it go for me.
And I understood how one could love a dog. Love. Like you love a child or a family member, or someone who also loves your favorite book.
Maybe love is just a series of infinitesimal moments of understanding.
Like the one I had with this incredible dog.
The guy on the other hand (for the record, very recently out of a multi-year relationship) we had a moment or two like that and then either we ran out of things to connect on or, I think is more likely, he didn’t want to be having those moments so soon. He wasn’t ready for them.
But what do I know about his heart, who am I?
Do something you love, or that you’ve always wanted to do! Remind yourself that there are things in this world that you love and enjoy.
See a musical.
Eat a corn dog.
Have a new sexual experience.
Take ibuprofen when you get cramps.
Look at some pictures of Frida Kahlo.
Watch Peeno Noir a dozen times.
Steal a really nice pen from a bank.
Look at pictures of really neat embroidery.
Just treat yourself, ok?