Sunday, December 3, 2006

My peeps

In the mail, for my birthday, a friend sent me a book, and although I'm nowhere near finished, the chapter I just read this afternoon resonated with me. The author(s) are talking about finding *your* people, your chosen family. As I mentioned earlier, I have a pretty big biological family and an even larger, chosen family. This fall I have been feeling particularly close to these chosen family members, defying the geographic challenges inherent with these friends. My connection to these people often surprises me, but it's so overwhelming that I cannot question it. There's a cliche, that I hate (does anyone like them?) but it keeps making random appearances in my life.

It is what it is. And so it is.

The book contends that you have to be on the lookout, because *your* people are hard to find. I don't agree.

These people seemed to simply fall into my life, occasionally, when I needed a friend, but not always. In retrospect, I hope that at least once, they were the ones in need. I hope I was just the right friend at just the right time. I can think of no other praise as good as this.

Perhaps I am just maudlin, this the day after the marking of my "annual continuation day" as Katie Robinson used to call it., after all I'm a respectable 20-17 now, isn't that old enough to be maudlin?

Easily, the first person and longest standing member is Lace.

Claudia and I worked together for a few years, and never once during that time saw each other outside of work. The day I resigned we exchanged phone numbers and became instantaneous members of each others chosen families. I spent every major holiday with Claudia, her husband and her house of cats, and eventually the dogs. I can remember her first Christmas with Bartleby as clearly as if it was yesterday. I remember the mothers day her family decided to hash out the sexuality of a certain family member -- with me right there. I suppose I should have been embarrassed, but I instead I just felt lucky, and loved. I used to look forward to my birthday just because I knew Claudia would cook me some fabulous Martha Stewart-esque dinner complete with a flaming dessert. She taught me how to cook, usually over the phone, there were many times I'd call her and give her a list of what I had in the cupboard and she'd direct me over the phone and Walla! Dinner! She taught me loads of other things, but by far, the biggest and best lesson was just how to be a better friend to others and to myself. I remember when she quit her secure-corporate job to start her own business, she told me she was going to "follow her bliss" - ten years later, her business is still a raving success. Apparently, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

My friend Red walked into the hospital I worked in one day, nodded, smiled, shook my hand, and to took the job the shock of all of us. Red and I didn't click right away, but soon enough, when we were the senior staff, we were sending staff early because we really only liked each other. Those late Friday nights (they become late nights when you send everyone home) we bonded over shoe shopping, Mojitos and a common history of illicit drug use and vampire hallucinations. We were so annoying our supervisor eventually gave us the same day off. We used those Mondays, not a minute went to waste, we hiked with a pack of wild, crazy, beautiful dogs in places I still believe only fairies live, for hours and hours. In the rain, the mud, the heat, the snow, the ice. We went home with tired, dirty dogs and took our tired, dirty selves out for tex mex and root beer. No matter the weather it was always warm at those tables. On the worst day in my life, the day I thought no-one understood, she sat next to me, held my hand and cried, so hard it shook the entire couch..and let me know she did feel my pain, she cried for both of us, shock had taken away my ability, but Red felt it and let it pour into her heart when she could have walked away. She stuck and hurt for me.

Megan struts - she's got that kind of presence, she comes into a room and all eyes go to Megan. She's the friend you have that you can't figure out why someone like her is friends with someone like you. You know? She taught me to sing my name when running up hills got hard. Sometimes, when it really sucks, I sing her name. I think of Megan when things are hard, Megan, who cried when I ran across the finish line, who washed my tired and blistery feet in ice, who trusted me to care for Princess Myra. She's sharp and quick, and never fails to make me laugh even when you just can't imagine anything being funny. On the hottest day EVER while waiting for a baseball game to start, with screaming children on all sides, Megan will be the first to remind me that there is no crying in baseball.

Eileen and Red were friends first. I followed along and never looked back. Eileen is 10 times smarter than I could ever imagine being. She's like Einstein smart. She's a true 'Type A' personality, nothing she does is done slowly, or without the proper amount of planning, precautions, maps, a compass, a flashlight, a bag of handy-wipes and a bag of trail mix. In the event of a true threat of nuclear war, I'm moving to LA, this woman will dig us a tunnel, build us an underground dirt house, find the right amount of protein and carbohydrates (in non-exposed to the radiation bugs, of course) and in her spare time discover a cure for radiation poisoning for the rest of 'above ground people'. Yeah, she's that friend. I know in my heart if I ever need her, she'll move the Rocky Mountain Range to get to me.

The friend that sent me the book is Staci. I told her that I felt like she was the sister the universe forgot to give me. We found each other through running. We both share the illness that is defined as a love running. She's a bskillion times faster than I ever will be, but this is the girl I run with in my heart. She warns me that her positive attitude gets annoying after awhile. I think she balances my darkness. She challenges me to not settle for anything. On the day after my 20-17th birthday, I am going to take her up on that challenge. I may very well end up going ass over tea-kettle and landing with a mouthful of artificial snow, but I will not let her down.
There are some new people out there - people I'm hoping will cause my chosen family to grow again. There's always room for one, or four, or ten more.

I do not know how I've held on to these people over the years, or why they've held on to me. My life would not be as rich without them and I wouldn't give any one of them up without a fight. This kind of connection will not be defined by the completion of the human genome. It simply is what it is.

1 comment:

tiff said...

Dude - you're lucky to have those friends, they're more precious than anything, you know?

An OLD friend just sent me a sound clip of a Laurie Anderson tune we used to zone to back in the day, and I realized I've been friends with her for more than half my life. A-freaking mazing that it's held up through years apart and an ocean between us.

It is what it is, and there's always room for one more.