part 1: family

May 10, 2010

y’all, family is hard.

i realize that’s not exactly a statement that’s going to set the world afire. it’s pretty obvious. but one of the things i’ve been dealing with (belatedly, perhaps?) is that at some point you have to stop being a child and expecting family to just sort of be there, circling around you. you have to act like an adult and realize that relationships – even with your parents, yes – require mutual effort.

this is my stumbling block now. i like my family just fine. i even love them sometimes. but, by and large, they aren’t really people i would normally choose to hang out with. we don’t have that much to talk about, usually. the things i have in common with them aren’t things like musical tastes or political views but a tendency towards stubbornness, strong opinions, and not keeping in touch. and when you come from a whole family who are spread randomly across the country, none of whom put much energy into keeping up with one another, it becomes fairly difficult to feel like you’re part of something.

what is the point of family? what do i owe these people i share genes with, and what do they owe me? is it okay to just drift apart, or will i eventually regret this? is this just laziness on my part? is my family-by-choice sufficient, or will i die alone, surrounded by cats?

there’s the old saying that blood is thicker than water, but i don’t think that’s always true. we tell ourselves – and society tells us, too – that while we might make our own families out of friends, that’s never going to be the same as the family you’re born to. there’s an implication that friends can drift apart, but your family can never truly abandon you. this is obviously untrue; just sharing DNA doesn’t mean a person won’t walk out the door. and i think the opposite implication – that friends-as-family takes work, while family-by-blood will still be there when you get around to paying attention to them – is just as untrue.

all family takes work. and i’m not sure how much work i want to put in with some of them. even the ones i like. and i feel like a shitty person because of it. it’s very juvenile of me to want them to just be there, to be the ones who call (or at least be people who are receptive to email). and i feel like it’s indicative of larger problems i have in life, of wanting the world to conform to my needs and wants rather than being willing to put in the effort required to get what i want.

today my gchat status is a weezer lyric: “i know i’m a sinner but i can’t be good.” i find it troubling that i identify with this line so much. i need to find ways to start being good. even if that means calling my damned family once in a while.


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