Finishing the hat
When I was in my late teens to early twenties I lived with my siblings at my mom’s house. Up the street was an elementary school, and on weekends the fields were used by the city for kid sports activities and games. Like T-Ball, or CAPS (Coach Assisted), little league stuff. When my youngest brother was playing these sports was when my older (and only) sister taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. A lesson I have often returned to in times of crisis, or heightened emotions, family fights or disagreements. I return to it when I find myself to prideful, or when I am in the line of fire of someone else’s pride or stubborn self-righteous behavior. I return to the lesson when my close friends are in crisis or heightened emotions and the like.
Family shows up.
That’s it. Three words. Simple. True. Important.
My brother had a game, up the street at that school and I was in bed, sleeping in because I had a late rehearsal from a musical I was involved in. My mom came in and asked me if I was going to Rik’s game, and I mumbled “no” and rolled over and went back to sleep. She closed the door and I heard her and my sister talk briefly, then my sister came in and asked me, with a firm tone “why aren’t you coming to Rik’s game?” I snapped back that I was tired and had a late running rehearsal last night, and I rolled back over again. She stood there for a brief moment in silence. Then she said “how would you feel if none of us went to see your show?” and she closed the door. I’m guessing she didn’t ask the question to receive an answer. But I lay there and opened my eyes and considered it. I considered what it would feel like to look out at the audience during my show and see empty seats where my family was supposed to be seated.
Then I got up. Washed my face, got dressed and walked up to the school, because family shows up.
When I was old enough, I moved out of my mothers house, pay rent for my room in SLOville at The Barn, pay my share of electricity bills and water bills and gas bills. This kind of freedom also meant driving to hang out with my friends. Whether it was for lunch, down at the bar for karaoke, whatever. The friends I made in my early twenties I didn’t know would remain in my life almost 20 years later . The few people I kept in contact with after high school have also remained present and that’s over 20 years. These friends, have helped me move to different cities, different states even. These friends have bought me groceries when I was low on funds, they’ve put gas in my car between paychecks, they’ve stayed the night if a roommate was out of town so I wouldn’t be alone. They answer their phones in the middle of the night if I’m stuck on the side of the road. They’ve seen me laugh and cry. They’ve seen me depressed and struggling. They’ve seen me excel and they celebrate little and big things with me. They taught me family is not formed only by blood. They taught me this by showing up when I needed them, not just when it was convenient – and that was another big lesson to learn
Family find the way to put pride on hold when big events happen. Family shows up during big events and help, not hurt or harm – especially on purpose or out of pride.
I was reminded of this today, after an extremely ugly and difficult day yesterday. A friend I’ve known since I was 14 reminded me , simply, and I quote “we learn who our real family and friends are when the chips are down, not when things are good.”
It’s so easy to live life during the upswing. Then someone words something wrong, someone misunderstands, someone takes a stand, someone fights the stance and innocents are hurt as collateral damage. Lies are told because the truth isn’t accepted as actual truth because then someone would have to take responsibility for being wrong. Pride, stubbornness, ego, self-righteousness. I’ve been on both sides of those words. And every time I was the one being prideful, or righteous – I was the one who was wrong, and I’m thankful I learned that lesson a while ago. Because I don’t know if I’d listen to that lesson once I’m set in my ways.
My wedding is in 10 days. My fiance is the stay-at-home parent of our 19m old twins, and I run my own spa as a solo-practitioner. Instead of eloping in Vegas (which was an option), or getting married at the courthouse (another valid and inexpensive option), we waited and planned and saved money for over a year so that our friends and family would be present and witness how far we’ve come as a family, and celebrate with us. What I know is that our real friends, and real family will, in fact, show up.
And those who cannot show up physically because of work, mileage etc., – distance and obligations are understandable and we know you’d be here if you could. It’s when you have choice to be here, and choose to not show up that our disappointment sinks in.
I’ve missed putting my thoughts and feelings and experiences here. It’s been over two years. I think it’s time to come back. I think I’m ready to show up here, again. It won’t be like picking up a paint brush and covering an old picture with something new. It’s more like something I’ve been staring at and not knowing how to paint it. What colors or shapes to use and add. Where is the light source so I can highlight what should be highlighted, and allow shadows to exist without being in darkness. So, I’ll be here again, soon. I’ll show up again, soon.