Tuesday, November 14, 2006

going back to my own ones

Even though I am not a religious person, I guess I have a sense of faith. It comes at moments like this. It came to me young, when I realized my immediate family was never going to be idyllic. Just as I realized that my little family unit was never going to live in perfect harmony, a large segment of my family swept into my life and filled the void.

When you have that many people genuinely vested in your well-being, you can feel it, and you know that ultimately you will be okay. My extended family lets me down all the time- they do not understand me, they have that special knack that family has of saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, and my, are they demanding. But I cannot hold it against them for long, for two reasons. First, they love me, and in a way that no one else ever will. Second, every so often, one of them comes through, and always in such a spectacular fashion that I feel like I am going to burst.

My cousin A emailed me yesterday pleading with me to come visit for the holidays. I was resolved to begin a traveling embargo that would not be lifted until 2007. But a constellation of symptoms has me reconsidering. There is the email from A, which had his signature sweetness dripping in every word. But there was also, last night, a voicemail from my grandfather. My grandfather has been calling me a lot lately, and this is not a good thing. He has been lonely and generally unhappy of late.

And something about listening to his voice last night on the answering machine calmed me down from the unsteadiness and annoyance I had been experiencing intermittently the past few months. Co-worker GBF noted yesterday that everyone wants a piece of me. That is not really true- as I have mentioned before, co-worker GBF is prone to exaggeration. But I have been feeling pulled, I have been feeling unable to meet the demands that people have been making of me.

You would think that my family pulling at me would just exacerbate that feeling, but it did not. It snapped it all into focus. It made everyone else's expectations all the more impossible and yet so much less troubling. I cannot meet everyone's expectations. I cannot even meet my family's expectations most of the times. The difference is that my family's demands are easy to handle; even if I disappoint them or let them down, we will still be family, we will still be bound.

I sometimes think it is easier for me to let go of friendships because of my relationship with my extended family. Even though I value my close friends immensely, and in some ways am closer to them than my family, I do not do much in the way of striving to mend a broken friendship or to tolerate the drama that comes with some friendships. And I am fairly certain it is because I am spoiled, incredibly spoiled by my family.

Even though I know this betrays a lot of shortcomings, for some reason, it makes me feel quite a bit better about life. I was getting to the point of feeling universally reviled, so just now, it's good to hear a message from your grandfather scolding you for not calling him, scolding you in that loving way that only grandparents can. For all its flaws, which he knows all too well, my presence is wanted. And actually, with all its flaws, my presence is wanted. Maybe that is what makes his voice enough at such a moment.

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