You’d think that you’d be closest with your parents when you’re little, when they’re more or less literally your entire world.

I don’t know, in hindsight. I was always more comfortable, from a very early age, hidden in a book than really engaging. And now, even though I still love my make-believe, even though I still spend as much time as I can in my head creating things that may or may not see the light of day, I’m a little more grounded, and I want much more to be around my parents, to talk to them and really get to know them the way you don’t when you’re younger. I’m realizing just how much I can learn from them. And I’m learning just how much I’ve always loved them, and that I’m just coming to really recognize it now.

I’ve always loved my little sister. That hasn’t changed. But I’m bowled over at how proud I am of her on a daily basis. The kid who once dressed up a grumpy old cat as a princess without so much as picking up on the fact that the cat hated it and who would scoff in an Anne-of-Green-Gables-esque way at anything that offended her has become an empathetic and willful and strong individual who I’m proud to call my friend.

And that’ s just blood. That’s not counting my incredible partner, who impresses me and awes me and teaches me every day and whose depth of talent I cannot fathom, and her two beautiful girls, one bombastic and driven and academic and the other introspective and thoughtful and creative, both of whom challenge me and reward me and enthrall me constantly. That’s not counting her parents, who have been more kind to me than I would ever expect of any two people who didn’t raise me themselves. That’s not counting her extended family, who accepted me immediately in spite of having no obligation to, and in fact in spite of having every reason to be skeptical of me. That’s not counting my cousins, some of whom I am slowly catching up with (or at least catching up on via social media), particularly Marco, whose forays into writing have demonstrated more growth and insight than I’d have expected from someone his age.

I think now I’m finally starting to figure out what this family thing is. I’m blessed with an overabundance of it now, and I’m not entirely sure what to do with it, other than be thankful for it and try to deserve the wonderful people whose names and blood and lives I’m sharing.

Thanks, folks.

And, as always, as my family’s always told me, paddle your own canoe.


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