I saw a sign in a window this morning while walking my dog. He actually wanted to walk this morning so when that rarity occurs I have to go with it. Usually he is not much for the great outdoors... other than sitting on the stoop of our building and waiting to get attention from passersby so that he can turn his nose up at them... He's a character. Any way...
This walk afforded me the opportunity to see a sign in a window. It read "One loyal friend is worth 10 thousand relatives". I thrilled to see this sentiment expressed by someone other than ME! Usually people fall all over themselves with "family comes first", and that's a really great ideal - but only if your family deserves it.
One new year's eve I had a drunken aunt of mine actually telephone me to tell me "we may not like what you do, but you're still a member of this family whether you like it or not". The amusing thing about this is: I have NO idea what she was referring to! They didn't LIKE WHAT I DO... hell, I have no idea. What did I do... hmm. Let's see, didn't lie, wasn't an alcoholic, didn't smack anyone around, I see, I wasn't like them. OH and did go to college, didn't get married (thank GOD), did live ALONE, hmmmm... I wonder. Jealous much? Maybe. But the kicker really was the part about 'being a member of this family'.
The truth is I was never a member of that family. Family? Something I desperately wanted all my life, turned out to be one hell of a faulty societal construct. I wanted a 'family', rather than a house of horrors, so badly that I adopted the families of my friends and boyfriends! Because anything was better than the crew I was born into.
Of course as an adult I understood that nobody has that 'perfect' family, there's always a glitch or two... or ten, and I got over that desire. And when your family turns out to be a group of people you have nothing in common with or who have treated you in ways that are damaging, disrespectful or dismissive, then I say SCREW 'EM! Just because you share genetic material doesn't mean you have to like them, or in fact have anything whatsoever to do with them.
Loyalty is extremely important to me as I had little of it growing up with parents who preferred every child they saw to me. So much for the spoiled only child syndrome. Oy.
Loyalty in my extended family was limited to what was easy. Like the time my mother tried to leave my father when I was 12. Back Story We went to her family. Their loyalty was to my father. So much for 'family'.
I have always fared better with friends. And this brings me back to the sign I saw this morning. I am blessed beyond the telling of it with wonderful friends. And they DO make up for those 10,000 relatives. Sure I've had friends who have betrayed me - note the past tense. I put up with a lot, but once that line of betrayal is crossed: you're dead to me. One of my dearest friends, Sandy, tells me he's SURE I've got Sicilian blood somewhere. I wish that were true! (but my cooking is too half-assed... no way do I have any Italian blood. DAMN.)
My friends. They are so great, and so much kinder to me than my family ever could be.
I could write an entire blog for each of them and what wonderful things they've done for me: from simply making me smile to dragging me to the Emergency Room when I had Meningicocal disease and thought it was just a bad flu, to spending the weekend with me at my mother's funeral, to pushing me to act again, to surprising me by showing up at a matinee (I LOVE surprises. The good ones any way!), to listening to me at 3 a.m. crying about how I wanted to kill myself. And I have to say that because of that loyalty I'm here now. Because it does go both ways, and were it not for my loyalty to a friend and going to see a show he was producing... well. That's another story too.
One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives? Then I am richer than anyone has a right to be.