Monday, December 16, 2013

it's my dream but it's yours if you want it too

The arrival of my niece has not changed my life. I didn't meet her and suddenly have a baby-fever type of revelation. She didn't make me question all of my choices and doubt all the decisions I have made in my life. She turned up, all six pounds of her, to happy parents, and I laughed at almost every thing that came out of the bro-seph's mouth. When she was a day old, he remarked "she's got a really chill personality," and I didn't have the heart to tell him that actually she was just a newborn baby. My mother turned up 4 weeks later and complained that the baby didn't play much, that she slept all the time. The woman has started her unrealistic expectations now, so I fear for that baby's adolescent years.

She looked like a wrinkly alien when she arrived, my niece. She wasn't some angelic perfection (shh, don't tell my brother and sister-in-law). And also, she's not the first baby born to people I love. I have two godsons, and many of my dear friends have had children, and I am happy for every single one of them.

But when my niece showed up and settled into my arms, I did have a strong reaction all the same. Funnily enough, before she was born, I had this irrational thought that maybe my brother and sister-in-law would hoard her, and would find me an annoyance. It was completely and totally and absurdly irrational, as it turns out. Because, for one thing, there was something my brother and I learned growing up-- there is simply no such thing as too much family.

We grew up surrounded. Two uncles, two aunts, their spouses and children, all living in a one mile radius of us. My brother and I were the oldest but it didn't detract from the importance of their presence. There was quarreling alternating with teasing. There were equal measures of tears, bruises, and laughter. And I remember, when I was younger, finding it all very suffocating-- like nothing I ever did was mine, because so many other people were involved, talking about it, their expectations adding more pressure, their bragging about anything I'd done somehow diminishing anything I did as wholly my accomplishment.

My niece arrived, and I knew I wanted to be geographically close to her if at all possible, because my brother and I grew up with the idea that you needed as much back-up as you could gather around you. And the problem then was that I wasn't sure I'd actually be able
to stay around, because that was somewhat out of my hands. Some friends, trying to make me feel better, kept telling me that being away from my niece for a couple of years would do no harm. "They don't remember anything at that age" and all that. But thing is- I knew that to be false. I can't tell you why, I don't even understand it myself, but I can tell you I'm very close to those twerp cousins who I cradled and played with and babysat in my teenage years-- they're adults now and we all live far apart, but when we get together, there's an unmistakable closeness that I treasure.
Circumstances are what they are. I would have had to deal with it, had I not lucked out, had I not been able to stay. I learned that from my extended family too- time came and they had to do what they had to do. I struck gold though with this little niece of mine. I've got a brother and sister-in-law who want her to know her foi as much as possible, and I get to stay near enough that I can see her frequently enough to be a part of her life. Looking at that kid, I did feel a sense of responsibility- to not drop her, to hold her when she fusses even if it's spoiling her a bit, and all that other unconditional stuff that comes with family. But also there's a different kind of responsibility- to find as much joy in my life, to share that with her and as many others as I can.

So the little pipsqueak did teach me something already. She reminded me what I already had known- that there is no such as too much family. Her arrival coincided with some big news in my life that was good (actually, great), and when there was this amazing outpouring of sincere happiness on my behalf, I realized what an idiot I was when I was younger and found sharing my accomplishments to lessen them. It's exactly the opposite as it turns out: knowing that so many people have supported me, have cheered me on, have held their breath on my behalf, have known what this means to me-- it's actually amplified my own happiness, and made me feel wrapped in a collective embrace that I had not known was there.

Some of that family who've been part of that embrace, they're family not by blood but by love. Some of them are you.

Friday, December 06, 2013

sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky

Well who knows where to begin and how to end, and whether this is any kind of beginning or if it's time to end. Just three days ago, an Indian-auntie type was trying to console me "you know how people of our culture say that things work out in the end."

And I responded, like I wasn't blatantly quoting The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, "and if it's not working out, then it's not quite the end, right?" Which earned me a nice hearty Indian-auntie cackle. She thought it was an original quip and I felt like a fraud, but it got me out of the conversation- I was tired of getting these kinds of pep talks by then.

There's some truth to it. But what of its converse? Life is not a movie or a novel, and sometimes it's such a letdown that it's not. Because I've had some drama in my life, I've had my lows, and then I have these moments-- these amazing, cinematic happy endings. Everything has come together, it's all worked out, the heroine has emerged victorious, and you could end scene and roll credits and it would be so beautiful, it could play Sundance (I keed, I keed).

Except life is not like that. Which is why this stupid blog continues on. There is this thought that in our youth, we are confused and angst-filled and struggling. Then we clear some hurdle and everything settles down, we settle down, and there is no further questioning ourselves. That's the thought, but I mean to tell you it's 100% false. Either people stop examining their lives, or they just stop publicizing all their quandaries, but there all of those doubts remain, stewing within.

Or maybe that's just me, I don't know. I thought about saying goodbye this week, to the blog, to social media, claim my happy ending, and end this story. Yet, there are still things to want in life, things to strive for, things to dream about. And so much more to experience. So instead of bidding it all adieu, I think it's better to take a moment and really savor how precious the present tense is, when you reach one of these chapter ends. When the cliffhanger will-they, won't-they ends with a kiss. Knowing that life is not like this, it is best to be grateful for the beautiful moment when you do get to proclaim "I am no man!" and stab the Witch King dead. And just like The Return of the King, there are many fake-out endings ahead, I suspect.