Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alaska Family

They say you can't pick your family, but I'm not really sure that's true. Or at least it isn't for me.

I'm getting ready to go back home to New York City for Thanksgiving. It's a trip I make each year, and that each year churns up a tornado of emotions for me. I worry about big things like my parents getting older, trying to cram a year's worth of meaningful connections into two weeks' time, and my Alaskan kids safely navigating an urban jungle. I worry about small things like the logistics of travel and whether I have anything to wear.

But I make the effort to go, because I love the people there, and because part of me will always call New York City home.

Ironically, Alaska and New York are very much alike in some critical respects: Both places are big, wild, and intimidating. Both have motley communities of transplants, misfits, adventurers, and dreamers who moved there because they were looking for something they couldn't seem to find anywhere else. 

And those communities become families.

Really, I don't think I could leave my friends and family in New York again each year if I didn't have my "Alaska Family" to come back to. Those people whose random pair of clogs and casserole dish are still in your entryway, or who left you a car at the airport, or who drove medicine to your house in the middle of the night, in the middle of a blizzard.

I think as we get older, we realize that the definitions of "home" and "family" are not static. They are fungible concepts. And I think that's good thing. When you broaden your definitions of home and family, you can experience relationships in ways you couldn't otherwise. And then it feels perfectly natural to call your friends your family, and more than one place home.

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