When is it time to grow out of your family?
As we all know, I AM THIRTY. If you had asked me when I was in second grade what would be happening when I’m thirty, I probably would have said, “Umm… dying? That’s so OLD!” But as far as I know I’m not dying. Not quickly at least. So here I am, thirty, healthy, and still calling my dad when I get a notice in the mail that I don’t understand. The way I justify it is that honestly, he always knows what to do about it. Granted if I had a husband he might know what to do with it too, but as we all also know, I am a very good looking spinster. Now, I don’t really care to hear the feminists right now telling me about how it’s extremely sexist to assume my husband or dad should deal with confusing mail. You’re absolutely right. That being said, I still don’t want to deal with it. And in my experience, women tend to go, “Eww I don’t understand what this says!” And men tend to go, “Just call the DMV and make an appointment to renew your license.” We get overwhelmed. Okay, I’m getting off track here and feel like I’ve dug myself into a bit of a weird misogynistic hole.
Let’s get back to the topic at hand: Family. I’m extremely lucky that most of my family lives here in Los Angeles. When I’m sick my mom can bring me soup, when my dad is going to a dinner alone he can ask me to be his date, when I’m having a hard day I can go cry at my sisters house even if I’m not making sense. There is a constant flow of safety around me. And I find that I would rather be with them than with most anyone else. I don’t think there is room for anyone new to become my family. Think of us like an Italian family where if you skip Sunday dinner everyone starts screaming and throwing pasta and saying you’ve brought shame to the family name. Or even better, think of us like The Kardashians. Like, do you ever see Kourtney going on vacation with Scott’s weird family? No. The only person I could have a real future with is going to have to be an orphan. Also, I would kind of prefer it if he didn’t have his own friends either. Everyone else’s friends are WEIRD. Is there a world where a guy could have friends that I’m not just tolerating, but actually enjoying? It’s a tall order, I know. It’s just that, my family is A LOT. There are eight marriages just between my two parents, and it’s a full time job keeping everyone on speaking terms. And it’s a job I take seriously. Sometimes I feel like I owe it to someone to stick it out in the relationship just because they put in the time to learn everyone’s name.
Also, this is really important: I LOVE my family. And if I complain about them, you are not allowed to agree with me! Isn’t that a secret code that every human being learned at the same time we were learning not to punch people in the face? If we have been together less than ten years, you do not have the right to criticize my family. I mean, you can do it, but I’m always going to choose them. So, actually if you’ve been trying to break up with me for a while and didn’t know quite how to do it, that would be a really easy way. There are many safe ways to respond to me complaining about my family. You could say, “Ah, that sucks.” or “Yeah, I could see how that would be frustrating.” But, “Your dad sounds like a dick” is not one of them.
It’s so hard melding two lives together. And I do understand that there will be a point when my family will be MY family, the one I create with someone else. And it will take work on my end to create new habits and new traditions. But I can be a real pain the ass. And I’ve come across a lot of people who think they are up for the job of handling me, and then realize they aren’t. And the ones who are there for me with unwavering commitment is my family. I really suffer whenever I mess things up in my family. I don’t like to miss things or fall short with them. To have the support of people who you can throw anything at, isn’t easy to come by. I’ve thrown a lot at them. I’ve been like, “I’m not going to college… I’m dying my hair purple… I’m piercing my eyebrow… I’m gonna be a bitch sometimes… I’m complicated… I’m a lesbian… Wait, no I’m not… I’m dying alone for sure…do you think I’m funny?… I’m scared…” And they never flinched. Maybe some eye rolling, but mostly just a lot of, “Okay… we don’t get it, but okay.”
It’s really important to make your family a priority. My step dad who I loved SO MUCH, passed away six months ago. About a month before he died, he came to my sisters house for dinner. I knew he was sick, but I didn’t know it would be the last time he would be out of the house. He sat next to me on the couch, a little out of breath and he said, “Erin, I’m so happy we’re having dinner together.” And I said, “Oh no, I have to go to a game night at my friends house. Can we do it next weekend?” He understood I had things to do. He just said, “I really wish you could stay.” But when I left the house I felt sick. I felt like I didn’t want to leave. But I did leave. I left and I went to some stupid thing at a friend’s house where nothing important happened. And that was the last time he would ever be at my sister’s house. It was the last time he would pretend that he felt good. It would be the last time he asked me to have dinner with him. And it keeps me up at night. It makes me feel like I’m going to have a panic attack when I think about it. It makes me very sad. We had plenty of dinners, but I wanted that one too. I wanted all of them. Nothing is more important than that.
“If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” — Ram Dass
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