I am crying. I am on a plane and I am crying and hoping nobody notices. Except the flight attendant who gently is waving a tissue at me while looking in the other direction. I like her.
You see, I just came home from visiting my little sister’s new baby. She and her husband have been trying for years and finally adopted little Vivienne. Let me tell you about her, okay? Thanks.
She hums sweetly when she is drinking a bottle. She giggles at my mom. She has slate blue eyes and blondish eyebrows and light brown hair. Jess calls her “Squidge” because she wiggles and stretches and grunts and you know, squidges.
My suburbia is more than 3000 miles from her suburbia. Being away from family is hard. In my little corner of the world, many of the people I know are from somewhere else. It helps when you move to someplace where lots of other people are new, too. They welcome your idiosyncracies and your story because it’s not familiar, and it gives you a chance to reinvent yourself. But parts of it suck. Such as lack of direct flights, a whole day spent in travel, lack of family to babysit your kids, I can’t jump in my car and go for a visit or out to lunch, my kids miss them, it costs a fuckload of money to get there, I have to stay at their house and they are really over us by the time we leave.
The pain feels vaguely like a steel pipe has been inserted into my throat and chest and I can’t breathe very well. The tears start stinging when I think of the gentle click of the infant swing, the sound of a cry which resembles a mini party horn, and the tiny farts produced by a vigorous backwards stretch.
Evidently I am not getting over this anytime soon. Deep sigh.
When I get together with my sisters, the discussion inevitably shifts to childhood memories, the level of dysfunction in our extended family and jokes at my mother’s expense. She is a good sport. Also to my dad, who has been gone over 18 years now. Though not biologically related, little Vivienne is a ringer for my dad with the receding hairline, chubby cheeks and brown hair. She also shares his unequivocal love for my mom, finding her curly red hair and her willingness to make a fool of herself quite hilarious.
Would I do it again? Move so far from my family? Well, it was before any babies were born. And I do love where I live. It would definitely have been a tougher choice. But we have embraced our community and our lives here. Life is rich and good. My friend Marci says friends are the family you choose. And it comforts me to know that I have chosen well.