Thursday, December 14, 2006


I don't know what it's like to be married. Or even, for that matter to really have to connect to a significant other's family. I've just never had to do it.

I don't know what it's like, to walk through that front door and shake hands with the mother, small talk with the father or try to superficially bond with the sister or the brother. I can't imagine it being all that comfortable. That is just another aspect to dating and commitment I'd rather keep to a very bare minimum.

When you're single - you still have families that have to mesh. There's the family that brings you up. Remembers what you looked like in diapers. Carry the scars from your temper tantrums and have those embarrassing pictures tucked away in old photo boxes.

Then there's your surrogate family. The people you pick up and collect once you're old enough to recognize that the family you're born to...has limits. Fathers don't always comfort or protect their daughters. Mothers don't always understand the choices of their sons. Brothers and sisters disagree over religion and sex. Cousins secretly compare career paths and progress.

Oh the limits...Eventually you have to realize your family's flaws. The imperfections that will someday mirror your own. Accept theirs as you want them to accept yours - and you'll be forced to move on. To mesh.

We mesh with the people who pop virtually out of nowhere. A Grand Am on a rainy day or a crowded bar in the middle of nowhere. We have the ability to pick and choose our surrogate families. To bring them in to dinner. To take photographs with. To share jokes. To console.

On Saturday, a portion of my two families will have to mesh. There will be plenty of alcohol to go around to ease the pain. Namely - my pain. I'm protective of my surrogate family - because they are the ones that choose to be with you. So I worry they'll be patronized - though my mother assures me there should be no worries. Not with a bottle of wine in tow, that's for sure.

Still, like a set of in-laws, I want my family to like my surrogates. I want them to fall in love with them as much as I have. But the charm of the surrogate is also the drawback. Your friends carry with them all of the intimacies your family will never really know.

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