I spent the majority of this past weekend with my dad, who flew into the Logan Airport on Wednesday to explore Boston with me. We got to take a trolley tour of the city, watch our hometown Blackhawks play the local Bruins, have some authentic Italian in the North End, and hang out with my mom’s parents. A little over a month ago, my mom herself, along with my sister, came out for a visit to the east coast. The occasion was far more somber- they flew out to attend my great-grandmother’s funeral, but being able to see them and reminisce with them was very nice.
The reason that I chose to go to Massachusetts for school instead of staying closer to home (a choice my parents might be upset with, considering how much more money I would have gotten from Indiana in comparison to Babson) was the opportunity to be near my mom’s family. My parents, who went to school at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, got to see a lot of them while their relationship was developing, and I thought it would be cool to get a chance to spend quality time with them, as they did. They have always badgered my mom about living so far away from them, which only allows us to visit them once a year for a solitary week, and I think that they were thrilled at my college decision.
My mom’s family is very conservative, in pretty much every way that you could possibly imagine. My grandparents live in a small Cape Cod with only one bathroom, and I’m sure that my cousins would, too, if they didn’t own so many animals. All of them are extremely close to one another- my cousins hold a “pizza night” every Friday, and everyone that is within driving distance makes their best effort to show up for a little bonding time. Virtually everybody is deeply religious- one of my mom’s cousins is a pastor, and my grandma always seems to have a megachurch pastor on TV- and have inspired my own faith due to their deep, unwavering belief in God. All of them are also extremely laid back. That’s not to say that they aren’t all passionate about people and things that they love, because they are; it’s more indicative of their ability to see the best in every situation, and to be content with whatever hand that life deals them as often as they possibly can. Being able to see more of them while out at school has made me discover many of the unique abilities my family has- my grandma’s skill at board games, my cousin Quentin’s drumming ability, and my aunt (who has special needs) being able to memorize streets better than I possibly could.
My dad’s family, which I have seen far more of, since they all seem to live within an hour of home back in Illinois, are a little bit more… forward. All of them live fast-paced lifestyles, with some of them working multiple jobs while others make their living in the hustle and bustle of inner city Chicago. They are in touch with modern trends and technology, wielding their iPhones and Androids almost as shrewdly as I can while spewing forth with the latest celebrity gossip. They are all very well educated, as well- it seems as if everyone was fortunate enough to be able to attend a well-regarded college, and regardless of whether they could or they couldn’t, they seem to be experts in their craft. Everyone typically only gathers for special occasions, but simply calling those gatherings “special” wouldn’t really do them justice- people show up decked in sharp clothes with kind greetings and piles of food so big that the meal comes close to rivaling a Thanksgiving spread. These gatherings also typically result in everyone playing some type of group game that ends in absolute hilarity.
There is also my immediate family to discuss, though, to be frankly honest, the way that I feel about them, and the experiences that we’ve shared, cannot be adequately described in one neat paragraph. My mom and I have very similar personalities, so we are able to read each other relatively well, to make each other laugh with jokes that nobody else could really understand. From my dad I get a quiet confidence, and we have been able to bond over our mutual interest in sports and his ability to see through my random emotional outbursts. My sister, who, as all little sisters are, is often very, VERY annoying (it’s also annoying that even though she’s 4 years younger than me, she’s my height- totally not fair), we share an inseparable bond that cannot be understated. And, of course, there’s my little bro, Niko. I was deathly scared of him when he was a puppy, but now that he’s a full-grown Doberman that weighs over one hundred pounds, I think it’s safe to say that we’re best friends; I’m looking forward to being home and having him wake me up by jumping on my bed and licking my face.
I recognize that my family is nowhere near perfect. There are people within my family that have quarrels with each other for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever understand. There are odd ducks that nobody is really all that excited to see at family parties. My family struggles with the burdens that come with everyday life, and sometimes when those burdens are too much to take, they make mistakes. They lash out. They get angry at one another, sometimes over really stupid stuff. It’s also been hard for me sometimes, since so many of my cousins back home are girls, and because it was hard to bond with my guy cousins out east since I rarely get to see them.
But I also realize that I have it a hell of a lot better than a lot of people do. Some families are torn apart by distance, others by never-ending disagreements, other still by unfortunate circumstances. I am lucky enough to have a family that tries its very hardest to remain a “cohesive unit,” no matter what happens. I have a family that is filled with many different personalities that are all loving and caring. I have a family that is supportive of anyone and everyone, that has been an absolute blessing to me, in helping realize who I am as a person and in encouraging me to follow my dreams. As cliché as this sounds, I truly believe that family is where life begins and love never ends, and I think that with the amazing family that I have, I’ll stand by that statement as long as I live.