My good friend Iliana and I went to New Jersey this weekend for a Bridal Shower/Bachelorette party for our friend Dana. Item #1: We went to Atlantic City last night, and there are hoochies as far as thee eye can see. Item #2: I won $29 dollars! I was playing 25 cent slots (yes, I AM a high roller, thank you for asking) and on my 2nd bet I won 29 big ones. I cashed out immediately and didn’t play anything else - I learned my lesson from Vegas last year…”JUST ONE MORE, I’LL GET IT BACK I KNOW IT” isn’t a winning philosophy. And no, my bragging is not being served to you with a side of sarcasm. I’m actually really excited!! I have terrible luck with gambling or any game involving chance so this is big time stuff.
We stayed with Dana and her mom in her aunt’s house, and her aunt couldn't have been nicer and more fun – in fact, Dana’s whole family that we met were all so warm, welcoming, and funny as hell. I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
On the drive home today Iliana and I were commenting on how much fun Dana's family has, and how close they all are. We got to talking about our friends and families from home (i.e., Northern Virginia friends)…I told her something about us, and I think she found it a bit odd. So I just have to brag for a second.
I have a very small family. My parents (and Parker!) are my only immediate family, and my dad is the only one left on his side. On my mom’s side I have some cousins and uncles and an Aunt, but we don’t see them very often. As much as I love them – and I do, dearly – and I love having them as family, I don’t always have that natural, relaxed, “I can be myself” feeling around them. This is probably only the natural result of not spending a lot of time with them, but it still feels a little strange that I have that inhibition around family. I love the tight-knit dynamic of my parents and I, but I’ve always wanted to have closer relationships with extended family.
…this isn’t the part I’m bragging about.
On my way home a few Tuesday nights ago, I made the spontaneous decision to finally pay the Thomas family a visit! I kept meaning to for the past few months but never find the time. So I hung out with Mrs. Thomas and Julie for a little while, caught up on family things, etc. and then stopped by the Parnham’s casa since I was in the area. They were watching American Idol so I ended up watching it with them. About a week later, I went by the Thomas family house again to hang out with the whole gang for a few hours. You may think it’s slightly weird that I just showed up unannounced (to my credit, I was invited that second time on Sunday) to people’s houses, but….that’s what I love about where I live. I could do that because all of our friends are so close, it really includes their families too. Any one of my friends could stop by here and say hello to Frank and Blue, even if I’m not there; they can and they have, and I hope they continue to do so. And it would be totally normal. Jean and Rosa hang out at the Greenspan’s sometimes. I can’t count the number of times we’ve all been over to Missy’s Dad’s place. The list like this goes on and on…
I lost both of my grandmothers last year - they were the only two semi-extended family that I was close with. I don't notice that it has affected me until I interact with a family like Dana's and a part of me is envious of their closeness...but it subsides fairly quickly as I'm reminded of what I have now. I know we only have one biological family and mine is pretty small, but because of my friends and their families I really feel like I have a HUGE family with about a billion people in it. I feel so lucky that we can all just go over and be one of the gang, no questions asked, because it’s a totally normal thing. Coming from someone who is sometimes envious of big family dynamics and close relationships like that, I really am so grateful for our friends and families because it makes me feel like I have that too.
I told Iliana about this, in particular my visit on that Tuesday and Sunday, and she said that it must be a Reston thing. I like to think we could narrow it down further. It might just be a College Crew thing. Just another thing that makes us so wonderfully special.