Holy fucking tired.
It’s not even 9pm, and I could crash right now.
I debated not even writing tonight – I really want a shower and my bed. The sun hasn’t completely set though, and I do have thoughts in my head.
So I sit here with Rosalyn, listening to Three Days Grace. My stomach is full, my skin still warm from the sunshine, a pleasant ache in my muscles, and my shirt still smelling like bonfire smoke.
It was a good day.
All the way home this evening, I thought about the definition of family, and how that’s changed for me over the years.
I want to talk about those people who have entered my life and became my family.
It’s an odd thing, really. I do have family – the traditional type, those that are blood relatives. After my grandparents passed, we all kind of scattered. I’ve never been really close to my mom’s family, but I grew up with my dad’s family. I have pleasant memories of family gatherings – cleaning strawberries and stringing beans on the front porch, the smells of my Mamaw cooking breakfast in the mornings, holiday dinners being prepared, people coming together to build things and fix things. More often than not, after the sun had set and dinner had concluded, the instruments would come out – a variety of guitars mostly, but also a whole slew of others. There was a piano at my grandparents and I’ve heard a dulcimer and banjo played, a mandolin. . . someone always sang, they took turns and also sang together. This is one of my favorite memories – falling asleep as a child in a recliner while everyone sang and played. I have good childhood memories too, guys. I write a lot about the heartaches and bad things, because that is the source of my inspiration – I know that I need to heal from those bad things, and I know that I don’t want it a part of my own adult life. But the good stuff is inspiring, too. I know how I felt during those good times, and it’s something I strive to find and achieve in my own life. The feeling of all of us being gathered under one roof, all in harmony with one another. . . it’s indescribable.
As I said though, we’ve all scattered. We all lead our own lives, and keep track of one another on Facebook, and I know several of my family members are readers of my blog. I had a feeling that this is how it would end up – my dad kept me up to date on family happenings. After first he passed, and then my grandparents followed, we all just went our separate ways.
Despite still having surviving relatives, I’ve made my own family here in Toledo, beyond my kids. I was sitting at Sophia’s today, and kind of marveled at how my life has ended up. I have several little families that I have made myself home in, and that have welcomed me and the boys with open arms – Chase’s family, Matt’s family, and even now a lot of Sophia’s family. Her mom hugged me when she arrived today, her brother greeted me warmly. I was completely at home there, feeling like I belonged. We all had a project we were there working on, and met up to chit chat on cigarette breaks and then broke away again to work on whatever we were there to do. I stood in the sunshine – Sophia and I were digging up grass and planting rose bushes – and smelled the food on the grill, the bonfire in the backyard crackling, heard the laughter and jokes – and just marveled at how this life of mine has turned out. I said before that I think who ever is in charge of watching out for my well being said, “This one needs a lot of people to keep her on her feet,” and I was blessed with an abundance of people who I can call family – blood or not.
I’m very openly reclusive and love my solitude. But I love days like today, surrounded by people who accept and care about me. Where I don’t have to water myself down. I stripped off my t-shirt when I got warm from the sunshine and dirt digging, and standing in a bright yellow tank top, I began spraying my arms with sunscreen. I have a white stripe up my back from being in the sun on Thursday in a racer-back tank top, so I had Sophia spray my back. Her mom looked at me and reminded me to spray my neck and chest, no different than my own mother would have done. I’m 35 years old and needed to be reminded of that, and I loved her for it. I told several people about finding the card and letter from my parents, and they were happy for me. I talked about the accomplishments the boys have made, shared fun stories about them, and exchanged jokes with people. Never once was I made to feel like anything less than just another family member.
What I wanted to tell you all today is that while it’s nice to have blood relatives, family is anyone that makes you feel loved and at home. Anyone who loves you for exactly who you are, with zero expectations should be counted as family. Anyone that you can rely on to be there in the good times and bad – that’s family. Anywhere where you have that sense of belonging. Blood isn’t always thicker than water, guys – at least not in the figurative sense. And I’m fortunate enough to have several of these types of people in my life. Where I’m not judged, where I can be completely myself, people that I know that if a need were to arise, they’d be there – and I’d be there for them, too.
I can still feel the fine coating of dirt on my skin, and smell the bonfire. My skin is slightly pink despite the sunscreen, and a nice, hot shower and my bed are calling to me. I had a wonderful day filled with sunshine and laughter and hard work, and I got that sense of home that I remember from when I was a child – everyone working together and laughing together, each watching out for the other one. I am indeed a fortunate person to have such wonderful people in my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am without this extended family I have.
Happy Saturday. I hope you all are lucky enough to have this type of connection with someone else, or several someones. It’s wonderful to not feel like you have to face this world alone.