Family ties

April 27, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Posted in family | 4 Comments

My mother’s family is from the Buffalo, NY, area. I have aunts and cousins who live in Rochester, NY, and tons of relatives in North Tonawanda, NY. I’ve lived in Toronto for going on two years and I’ve visited my relatives once — and they’re just a hop, skip and a jump across the lake. In the meantime, one of my cousins has gotten married, one has had a baby, one of my cousin’s wives is pregnant with twins, and there has been some kind of celebratory gathering surrounding each of those events. I’ve been invited to all of them and I just haven’t gone. I haven’t seen my grandparents in upwards of five years. So, this weekend it’s another cousin’s bridal shower, and I finally caved and said I’d go. It’s not that I dislike my relatives — on the contrary, this cousin, her parents, and her brother are some of my favorite people on earth — but just that family gatherings are such a challenge for me.

My nuclear family is just me, my brother, and our parents. My dad is a pretty solitary guy, and I like being alone, too. I guess we all do, really. Growing up, we just didn’t see any extended family members that often, as most of them live in New York or England. My uncle, who lives in West Palm Beach, FL, is the relative I’ve seen the most often, and even as a kid, I’d bring a book when we went to his place for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Before and after dinner, I’d retire to the living room or an empty bedroom to read while everyone else was in the pool or on the patio. When I got older, I still brought a book, but I also fortified myself with alcohol, which makes any social event that much more bearable. I guess I like to have a barrier, whether it’s textual, textile (I am so bringing my knitting this weekend), or alcoholic, between myself and others.

I know how that sounds, how it makes me seem like I don’t like people, and there’s a part of me that doesn’t, in the sense that I don’t love all people just because they happen to exist. I like being by myself, I’ve never been into team sports; I didn’t even want to join Daisies in kindergarten, I imagine because it meant that I’d have to spend lots of time with other kids. But the people I do like, I love. My friends are the most important people in the world to me, and I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my parents and, as we get older, my brother. It’s just so hard to have to perform for a group of people I don’t really know that well, to be outgoing and witty and charming, to have to watch my language and just generally be on my best behavior, when all I want to do is grab a beer and a book and sit in a corner.

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4 Comments »

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  1. Not to one up you or ANYTHING, but at least it wasn’t 70 of your closest relatives… all fortifying themselves with alcohol to the point your mother (it wasn’t her side of the family) tells you how cute your second cousin is… though, as much as I love you mom, I wouldn’t put it past her. I do feel you, but which is worse time with family you don’t know, or time at an event where you know the bride the groom and your date and NO ONE else… once again FREE BOOZE!!!

  2. Aundra, you couldn’t pay me to spend time with 70 of your closest relatives. And I believe you left out the most hilarious/horrible part of that story (is this the reunion in Colorado I’m thinking of, where your aunt pulled you aside to talk to you about lipo?). However, I’m going to have to say that AT LEAST your relatives drink. I spent the weekend with Pentecostals. I didn’t have alcohol to fall back on. I also didn’t curse the ENTIRE WEEKEND. I didn’t even say Oh my God, which I say approximately once every 30 seconds. It was challenging, rest assured.

  3. I’m going to need a longer blog post about said weekend.

  4. I can understand that completely. I haven’t been a family function is YEARS. Mind you I have 3000 miles between myself and my family in New York so a bit more of an excuse. =)


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