Sunday, November 26, 2006


I’m on a rickety train. It’s one of the older Metro North cars and it lurches, leaving my stomach behind, hurtling through stations and schedules.

I just came from home, and the remnants of a head cold (my parents joke that I must be allergic to them; every time I come home I start sniffling) and now I’m flying back to the big, bad city with all the obligations I’ve avoided successfully for days.

At home-home, though I sleep in a guest room long converted and very clear telling of my state of belonging at home (loud and clear, I’m to have moved on, apparently I needed a tangerine room to tell me this) I feel protected there still. Feelings at home negate responsibility, animals abound, everything in the town and every light in the house switches right at 8 PM, from bright to dim, and things are quiet without exception.

Home, and the years I spent under the tutelage of my parents, with their chores on the fridge, summer reading lists, far-too-strict (my friends agreed) rules on staying out later—all of that was to prepare me for something else. The truth of reality beyond our yellow painted door.

Jonathan Franzen told me, and told an auditorium, that fiction is a deliberate dream.

I filled in the completes as he said the phrases. Our truth lies in our family, and when you finally leave home your friends become your family.

Maybe your friends are more important, potent and meaningful. Because they are your chosen family.

This chosen family, and only this singularity, makes it bearable to be a human being. As everything else: spinning that deliberate dream, cutting teeth and cutting a paycheck, loving hard and wrong is all too much of what it means to be alive, and it’s that all too much which makes it so burdening.

I wonder if, instead, our chosen family should not be regarded and revered over our born family.

It’s my family at home, only, which knows we are bound together. It’s that family, alone, that will never stop trying. It’s that family who holds firm the unseen belief yet monstrous importance that we share the same blood strains and therefore must love each other, at all costs.

We together are indeed the only ones who try, every day, to make it work, even when it shouldn’t, because we are a unit. This is the family that cannot walk away from one another, because this family will not accept defeat.

This was my noble training for the real world.

Was it right? Maybe not.

In life we walk away instead of stand and face and fix at every turn.

We switch jobs, friends, roommates, fiancés, advisors and states as often as we change our clothing. Possibilities are infinite; families are not.

Today I wonder if this training belies what things should really mean for all of us. If the ability to flip outweighs the character to withstand change by staying strong at what has always been and always should be.

We have it all, because we hold nothing, own nothing. Without attachment, we have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain.

Our choice to commit to something makes it important, we think, since our own accord sought it out. Yet it also makes it transitory, because all of us can, and will, change our minds eventually.

Still, I would not trade my training for the world. It’s simply too bad it did not prepare me for such.

Tomorrow is operation number two, the defining one, and it will be that we will survive whatever the day and the knife will bring. This is only because I see. I finally see.

My born-in family has been my chosen family all along—a choice, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, that cannot be reversed. Dear Lord, I am married to these people forever.

Panic subsides, gratitude flows in, one more round of positive thinking and we could be done with this year, never to look back...


Anonymous said...

Good luck for you and your family tomorrow.

Buffy said...

Thinking about you and yours today. Hope everything went well.


D.T. said...

Exactly K. The most important thing in life is your family. There are days when you love 'em, and others when you just wanna put your hands around their neck and...well, you know. But in the end they're the people you always come home to. And whether it's the family you're born into or the one you make for yourself, remember to tell them how special they are and how much you love them. Hope all goes well...