Friday, September 21, 2007

Taking Off Deadbolts

It's Family Weekend at Dog Family Central -- the Patriarch's 90th, other birthdays, a wedding... We blew into Lancaster on Wednesday afternoon, with windstorm sweeping the Antelope Valley into a dusty haze. 70 pounds of apples weighing down the truck kept it from flying off to Barstow.

I've never been much of a family person. First, I grew up far away from my aunts, uncles and grandparents for most of my life. When we moved back to Japan, I discovered that my mother was not much of a family person, either. Family gatherings were wrought with stress and booby traps, many situations in which she could be criticized, many landmines to have to tiptoe around and so after my father passed away, only a few years after the move, we rarely saw our relatives.

"Family" is the first relationship in our lives. It's where everything begins and ends. I think it defines how you are at any human relationship. If you are not good at family relationships, you are probably not good at other relationships, either. I have hundreds of acquaintances but very few real friends -- no matter how close I get, I find myself keeping a distance with everyone. Even with Big Dog, many rooms in my heart are off limits whether he knows it or not. In fact, so much so that you couldn't even find the disguised doors!

"No Trespassing! Violators will be prosecuted!"

One of my best friends who extremely close to her family is tireless at keeping friendships alive . I am terrible at it. She is my oldest friend, and I am sure it's all because she's so good at maintaining relationships.

But this is my Year of Other Families. I've been warmly welcomed into not only the Dog Family, but my Ranch Family and the long lost Idaho Family, too. It's strange and wonderful. It's making me unlock some of my doors. Or at least take some deadbolts off.

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