I think it’s safe to say that I am from an enormous family. There are more than 40 of us – so many that I don’t even know the exact number. My mom is one of eleven and I am one of six. There are some twenty-two grand children and eight in-laws. My grandparents live up the street, my cousins and I went to the same high school as my aunts and uncles, and most of my family lives within a mile radius of my childhood home. Spit in any given direction and you’re likely to hit a Wall.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of drama. Everyone is in everyone else’s business, holiday gatherings require multiple tables and the seating wars that ensue, and with something always going on with someone you can never quite be caught up on all the news. A few of the smarter family members have fled the state in a sort of self-imposed exile. It can be tricky to figure out exactly who you and what you want with so many opinions to consider.
But seven years away, and I’m starting to miss it desperately. The long phone calls and occasional flights just don’t fill the void. With just two of us under this roof, life gets boring. I want a full house. I want a dozen heads around the table. I want to know that if something ever happened, there would be three-dozen family members by my side.
Chasing opportunity has its trades off. With the fulfillment that comes with geography, and the success that comes with education and jobs, there is a profound loneliness that results from separating yourself from the ones you love. It will never not feel unnatural, cutting yourself off from the only group to which you innately belong. They are your people, the only people in the world who have no choice but to be your people. There is security and belonging in that unlike anything else I have found.
In a perfect world, they would all come with me. All 40+ of them. From the Rockies to the Serengeti, the Atlantic to the Pacific, I’d like everyone to tag along. That way holidays could stay chaotic and the front door would always find someone passing through. But if I can’t have perfection, then I will take solace in the phone calls, and take pride in our respective adventures. Ultimately, this is all just a long detour until I make it back home.