It May Take Your Whole Life To Get There
So tonight, I leave from my annual holiday visit with my family in California and head back to New York City. For those who follow me on Twitter or see me on Facebook, you can probably tell I had the time of my life. Since I only visit my family once a year, I usually make the trips extended stays. This year was no different, as I’ve been here since December 16.
But now, it’s time to go back to the city I call home. Leaving isn’t bitter sweet. I look forward to going back, being my own man, sleeping in my own apartment, and seeing all my friends, some of whom I also consider family. The other reason I’m leaving with a smile on my face? I have finally lived to see the day when my family is in full bloom.
My peers and I, we’ve become impatient.
All of us.
We want the partner, the house, the kids, all of it right now. But we didn’t wake up with that desire, it’s been in us for years. Like I said a few months ago when I turned 29, I thought by now I’d be fathering at least my first kid, had the high-paying dream job, and the wife to come home to. But here I am, 29 with a low-paying dream job, no kids, and not one hint of a wife in my vicinity. If someone told me 10 years ago that this was the life I would be living, I’d probably be a little disappointed. That’s not what I saw for myself, not what I ordered.
But today, it’s what I have, and I’m not mad about it at all, nor am I in some sort of rush to get there, wherever there is. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the family I have today, it’s that what we want to have may be a lifetime away from us.
The thought occurred to me last week, while I laid sick in bed. It was there I heard a sound unfamiliar coming from the living room. It was the sound of my family and they sounded like something out of The Cosby Show. It was so foreign to me, I almost didn’t recognize it. But when I realized I wasn’t dreaming or going delirious from a fever, I smiled to myself.
My family has been through it all: divorce, unexpected death, separation, feuds, and so many more things that I’m sometimes surprised we didn’t end up on a daytime talk show with all our drama. I grew up seeing family members fight each other, curse each other out, and get their hearts broken.
Even my house, the one I grew up in, is drastically different today from what it was when I lived here full time. It was, much like our family, under constant repair. For years I walked on undone floors, a weeded backyard, and stained carpets. It wasn’t a ran-down shack by any means, it was just constantly unfinished, in need of this and that, almost like a permanent fixer-upper.
But now my house is complete, and what’s so cool to me is, my family is a reflection of it. Not to say we’re finished, but we’ve definitely come full circle.
When I look at my mom and see her sitting on the couch next to my step-dad, a man she met only a few years ago, I think of how long it took for her to get there.
When I look at my younger sister be a mother to my six-month old niece, I think of how many babies she used to take care of for other people, and how long it took for her to get there.
When I see my grandmother be a great-grandmother to my niece, I think of how long it took for her to get there.
When I see my niece’s father make baby faces to his daughter, when I see his son from a previous relationship open up presents alongside my family because he’s in our family too, I think of how long it took for them to get there.
When I take a picture of my grandmother, my mom, my sister, and my niece sitting together at breakfast, I think of how long it took for them to get there.
When I step into a store at the mall with my mom, my sister, my step-dad, and my niece, I think of how long it took for me to get there.
All of this is not to say we were without for so many years. For so many years, it was just me, my mom, and my sister living in this house, and we were definitely a strong family, but much like the house we lived in, we were under construction, adjusting to adjustments we never asked for.
It took my whole life to see those smiles, to see these people, to have this family, and I’m only 29, my sister 26. My grandmother had to wait until her 80s. My mother, her 50s. My step-dad, his 40s. It took them their whole lives too, but hey, we’re all here now. As I like to say, it’s not all blood, but it is all love.
Now when I come home to my mom and step-dad’s house, it looks finished, nothing like the house I grew up in and everything like the house I would love to have a family in. When I fly back home tonight, I know the place I’m going to is both figuratively and literally thousands of miles away from the place I just left, but I’ll get there one day. Even if it takes me a lifetime, I’ll get there, and once I arrive, I won’t think of how long it took me. I’ll be too busy enjoying where I end up.
The Process: Getting on a plane tonight, and most of you already know how I feel about that. Wish me safe travels.
The Poppin’ Questions Podcast is back up this Wednesday, feel free to hit me with a question for consideration here.