I believe that everyone should move away from home at least once in their lives.
I’ve done it three times. (One of those times I moved to a place where I didn’t know a single soul, which doesn’t have anything to do with the point of the post I am presently composing, but it’s something I’m proud of and I felt it should be acknowledged.)
But let’s not digress, because this is important: moving away is key to understanding how crazy your family really is.
It’s the truth. My family is crazy—I know it now more than ever before—but guess what?
SO IS YOURS.
If you don’t believe me, it’s because you haven’t left home for long enough.
Things my family have always done—little things, like the way some relatives will flat-out ask me how much my husband makes or how much we owe on our mortgage, or how my sweet but also opinionated grandma tells me that my haircut at Christmas made my face look fat and she’s so glad I’m growing it out (I’m not, by the way: I’ve just been too cheap to have it cut lately)—these things never used to seem unusual to me but they sure do now.
It has taken years of living away from home for me to realise that not every family has competitions to see how high they can jump (a skull-shaped hole in our ceiling commemorated for years before we finally had it re-drywalled just how good a jumper my uncle was). Saturdays are not automatic Family Work days for some families. Not every family eats salsa on their scrambled eggs (but I will never give that up). Some families actually have dogs that live INSIDE their houses. Even as I write this post my mom is in her bedroom playing an old cassette recording of “The Spirit of God” as loud as it will go (I suspect she’s trying to send me some kind of message like she used to do when I was in high school, though I’m not at all sure what the message is supposed to be).
Yes, my family is crazy. I’ve learned this from spending time away from them.
But I’ve also learned that every other family is crazy, too. It’s just the way families are.
And while I won’t use the old “that’s why I love them” cliché (I do love some of the craziness but often it’s truly nothing but sheer crazy day in and day out, and that can be kind of exhausting), I will nevertheless say that I do love them.
I love my family.
The day I packed up my bedroom to move away for the third (and permanent-until-further-notice) time, I felt like someone had pummeled my heart in with a rubber mallet. I remember driving away down the 202 freeway with Poor Kyle behind the wheel while I exploded with tears in shotgun. Then we got to Canada and got settled in and gradually I pieced my shattered soul back together, but just in time for another visit back home. And at the end of each visit I get with my family, either in Canada or Arizona (or Utah ’cause it’s only fair to meet in the middle sometimes), out comes the mallet and smash goes my heart, again and again, smash and mend, smash and mend, over and over and over, until one day (I worry) the pieces will be so pulverized they’ll simply be beyond repair, silty heart-dust that’s impossible to glue back together, for which the only recourse will be simply to mix with a little water and form a clay and shape it into a new heart altogether, very much like the one I started with but not at all the same.
It makes me sad to live away from my family.
But I take comfort in the fact that they’re crazy.