Family comes in many different forms.
After signing my most recent lease, it’s led me to reflect on the year that’s been, even if it hasn’t been a full year. May is coming soon, sooner than we all think it will, and that was the last time my friend and I lived together. The last night in Medford was spent going to a local restaurant I’d never been to, with a group of friends we’ve both known for almost our entire lives. It was a special night, and it was hard to say goodbye, knowing that my friend would not only be leaving the apartment, but that he would be leaving the state. For a year and a half, I had enjoyed a sense of predictability, even if I didn’t love living in the ‘burbs.
I had brunch with a friend this past Sunday, and the food was plentiful and delicious. The coffee kept coming, and I’m a sucker for a place that has strong coffee that they’re generous with. My friend and I sat there and discussed so many things, and we talked about my last apartment, and how nervous I’d been to move in. Over the years, I’ve lived with so many people, but none of the situations gave me pause like this one. This was the friend I’d known my entire life. We’d been through so much together, including a few losses and breakups. Living together made sense, the excitement level should have been stratospheric, but I was anxious. There are few things in this world that don’t make me anxious.
I’ve lived with so many people, but I’d never been this close with any of them. More than once, I’d witnessed friends move in together, only to see them grate on each other, and challenge the friendship they thought was so strong. In most cases, the damage was repaired, but you never know how two people are going to handle being in the same space together. Maybe everything will be fine, but there will be a disagreement or two, and these conflicts can escalate quickly in close quarters. Hopefully you don’t say anything too detrimental to the friendship. When it’s all said and done, this person is a friend of yours, this situation is temporary, and there is still plenty of life left to live where you can be at peace with one another. Be willing to forgive the mistakes that you both will make.
Sitting there and eating fried dough, I realized why I had been so worried: my former roommate was my brother. We share no family members that I know of, but we have a bond that is unmistakable. We’ve played sports together (he was always better), and we’ve spent multiple summers working together. We know each other way too well. We can both predict what the other person will do. We both know what makes the other person tick, and also what drives the other person crazy.
In my best moments, in our best moments, we were able to resist the urge to snipe at each other, but not always. When the day was challenging, or when I wasn’t in my finest hour, I’ve been known to take a shot, and he’s the same way. Luckily, he never holds anything against me, and I’ve done my best to adopt that attitude. It made living together, and living in general, a lot easier. When it was time for us to change up our living situation, it’s safe to say that we’d both grown a lot. Now, it was time for each of us to strike out on our own.
Family is a fluid concept.
My family is mixed. I grew up with a sister and two stepbrothers. Even though my sister and I were biological siblings, I was known as one of the boys. I had disagreements with each of them, but these disagreements were never on the level of the ones they had with each other. There was more intimacy between them. They had known each other and lived with each other for almost their entire lives, and there was no doubt that their strong personalities had clashed many times. They’d argue over who was wearing whose shirt, who got the front seat, things of that nature. My arguments with each of them were never as intense. Maybe I’m just calmer, more relaxed, but each time I’d verbally spar with one of them, I could feel the difference, and it reminded me that even though we were close in age and lived in the same house, we weren’t as close as I would have liked.
That’s who I grew up with, but things have changed. Since my teenage years, friends have invited me into their families. I’ve been allowed me to share in holidays and special occasions. Each and every time, these families have brought me in with no questions asked, and their hospitality has known no bounds.
Family has the potential to become something greater. So many people in my life have chosen me, and I’ve chosen them. It’s a bond that’s the result of a conscious decision, and not just because you attend the same family gatherings every year. I still value family, but the relationships formed with others in my life are packed with an incredible amount of meaning as well. When you lose people you love early on in life, you realize that only love can heal the damage that’s been done. Having more love around you makes the process a lot easier.
Family doesn’t have to be blood. The people in my life, so many of them started as friends, but these are people I feel comfortable around, people I can tell things to, things that you don’t talk about in every day conversations. I have more families than I can keep track of, and yet, I still keep picking up new ones. I count myself lucky that I should be so blessed. My life is much richer, much more enjoyable, because of all those I’ve gained along the way. Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “Mixed”
I like your perspective on this, Adam. I’ve rarely considered friends and family as mutually exclusive. Both cohorts open doors to new connections and out of that, have evolved meaningful relationships. I hope you don’t mind my sharing a post that speaks to your topic. I found the quantitative data on ‘friends’ not only interesting but likely, accurate.
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I don’t mind at all, and I really loved the post. I took a road trip with my stepbrother years ago, and I still reminisce on that time in my life. I was going through a difficult year, but those 2.5 weeks really brought us much closer together. Thank you.
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