Posts Tagged ‘my family’

Day 17 is my favorite memory.

I don’t do singular best-ever favorites. Really. I am not that linear. So I’ll pick one of my favorites, and perhaps share others later on.

When I was seventeen, in late spring, my sister‘s parents invited me along on their family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. Having not seen the ocean since Myrtle Beach in South Carolina when I was itty, I eagerly agreed. They were incredibly generous and insisted on paying my way, for which I am forever grateful, as I couldn’t have gone otherwise.

It was unspeakably odd watching the land flatten slowly as we left my beloved mountains behind, but the bridges once we got near Chesapeake Bay were amazing. We stopped at Fisherman’s Inn on the bay, where I had my first taste of cream of crab soup, which became one of my favorite foods that I can get nowhere else. We also saw a few wild ponies on Assateague Island in passing, and I put my toes into the surf for the first time in years.

I was struck then, well and truly, with the ocean’s magnificence. It attracted me like a magnet. My sister showed me how to move with the waves, not stand against them, and I spent the next hour doing the exact opposite of what she’d said, lunging at each wave as it rolled to meet me. I was sent tumbling a few times and surfaced with wild laughter, while my sister shook her head and her parents eyeballed us from the shoreline.

We stayed in the Carousel, an amazing hotel right on the waterfront, which enabled us to have convenient night-time beach walks. We strolled the boardwalk and found dozens of hole-in-the-wall shops, bought little trinkets and toys, and generally cavorted around.

It was easily one of the most formative experiences in my life, and certainly the highlight of that year.

Day 14 is about my partner, J.

(It was supposed to be another ‘what you wore’ thing, but man, my wardrobe is not that exciting. Flannels and jeans and sneakers. Whoop-de-doo. So I changed it.)

If I wrote a song about J, I would call it Steel-String Shaman. That’s almost telling enough, right there.

J is a dashing fellow with hair down to his hips and a sense of style that trumps mine ten times over. He’s a talented musician, rocking the guitar (6- and 12-string both) and ethnic drums (djembe, doumbek, bodhran), and he can improv incredibly well with anything from pennywhistles to mandolins to harmonicas. He’s also a craftsman and artist, skilled with pencil, paint, clay, and wood. Along with these creative hobbies, his passion is working with animals; he’s served as an emergency vet tech for years and has worked with dozens of wild animals in zoos and sanctuaries. He’s also an avid martial artist and the reason I began studying Bujinkan ninjutsu.

To make a long and glorious story short, J and I met through a mutual friend when I was still living in Colorado (and he in Nevada) in the summer of 2008. We fell hard for each other and decided to go for the long-distance thing – we didn’t miss a single day talking to each other and managed fairly frequent visits. The following summer, I packed up and moved to Nevada to be with this incredible person that I had grown to so love. We’ve been together for over two years now, living together for over one, and I could not possibly be happier.

This may, in fact, be why I felt the urge to give J a ring I’ve had and worn every day since I was seven. It was handmade for me and is the most precious thing I own, no matter how simple and plain-silver it is. It was all very romantic, of course – we were at dinner earlier this month, and I got down on one knee, held the ring up, and asked solemnly… “Hey, wanna ring?”

He did. And I smiled.

Day 11 is my siblings.

This is where it gets somewhat entertaining:

  • I was born and raised an only child.
  • I constantly refer to my sister, a young woman named Kaitlyn. But we aren’t biologically or marriage-logically related.
  • I have an older sister that I’ve never met, who was given up for adoption when my parents were 18. Her name is Bobbie Sue. No one knows where she is now or how she turned out.

Since I know nothing about Bobbie, I’ll talk about my heart-sister, Kaitlyn. I called her my sister because ‘friend’ seems far too shallow to encompass the depth of our relationship, and since we were both only children, it was rather nice to have an extra family member close to our own ages. We met when I was 14 and she was 11, and though we came from vastly different households, we were so similar in interests and hobbies that we may as well be literal siblings. We also look alike, amusingly enough – we have similar eyes and hair.

Kaitlyn has been my confidante for as long as I’ve known her, the unwavering partner-in-crime to all my hijinks and success and bad days. She and my partner, J, are the two most important people in the world to me.

Kaitlyn is currently living in DC, quite far from my corner of the desert in Nevada, but we still make all efforts to see each other a few times a year. We keep in touch via online journals, instant messaging, Twitter, and cell phones. Though we’ve both changed immensely since we met – hard not to, given that neither of us are kids anymore – we’ve stayed close and comfortable with each other. I don’t think either of us have friends who haven’t heard of the other; we are a constant part of each other’s lives.

Instead of trying to describe my sister, I’ll tell you a story instead:

One Saturday night, back when I was living in Colorado and she was at college in Ohio, Kaitlyn was not happy. It had been a bad day. She wanted a hug, and her local friends were all preoccupied or absent. She and I were talking on IM, and much like xkcd once pointed out, sometimes typing *hugs* is not enough.

So, we each got in our cars and drove twelve hours to meet in a random town in Missouri. We had breakfast at IHOP, completely delirious from sleep deprivation at this point since we’d started out late at night, caught a few hours of sleep in a hotel, had another meal at TGIFriday’s, and then drove back home. We got a few hours sleep before she had class and I had work on Monday morning.

And it was totally worth it.

Day 3 is about my parents.

My parents are from Detroit, Michigan – notably, the bad neighborhoods. They both grew up rough-and-tumble and street-wise. Dad’s parents moved to West Virginia and, later, my parents followed them there, making a huge leap from city life to rural mountain life. They planned to have me once they had a house and, when they were both 25, I was born into a small house on an acre of land in a forest in the hills.

My mom never graduated high school, but she is one of the most independent people I know. She is the epitome of badass female power; she is unafraid to say what she thinks and take what she wants. At the same time, she taught me kindness and compassion, how to chase a dream without trampling people along the way. She refused to let me be submissive and refused to let me be weak (I was a quiet child). She gave me all the tools I’d need to succeed as a person. “Adapt, improvise, overcome” is her adage. She’s far from perfect, but she knows her weaknesses and does her best with what she’s got.

My dad is a professional electrician with a zillion licenses and no college education; he’s made it in a challenging field with nothing but his brain and skills. He’s something of a workaholic. He’s very intelligent and has a quick temper; yet, he is still compassionate, generous, and kind, and he tries to be as respectful and polite as he can. He has some old-fashioned views, which clash with mine, but he still hears me out and is willing to accept my ideas as possible. He expresses affection through material gifts and money – he taught me the value of a dollar – and he is unbelievably devoted to family. He’s not happy if he’s not providing for and taking care of someone who needs him.

My parents got divorced when I was 18– well, a couple months before I turned 18, but they waited to tell me to prove that we were still a family. After the surprise wore off, I was fine with it, since they’d be happier apart than together. They both still live in West Virginia, Mom in the house I grew up in and Dad about 90 minutes away. My mom got engaged again last year to a wonderful man, whom I am happy to consider family.

I love both my parents immensely and am grateful for everything they taught me; I’m a lot like both of them.

Today, we’re taking a break to introduce you to the wonderful souls who share my living space.

First of all, my partner-in-crime and my love, J. (You can’t tell it in this picture, but his hair goes past his waist.)

Secondly, the furballs who call me kin. From left to right: Orion, a female shih tzu runt, Mary, middle-aged aunty, and Kitsune, female fox-spirit tabby.

Thirdly, the purrboxes J brought to the mixer. Terror is on the left, and Nicodemus (Nikki) is on the right. (Sorry for the low quality; my camera broke shortly after I arrived in Nevada, so this was taken on my phone.)

And, a new addition, our long-term houseguest, Kali Vicious! (Also known as Deathcat or Bitty.)

Th-th-that’s all, folks!