Family, people related to each other usually by blood but not necessary. They are people that have helped shape you into the awkward, opinionated, light hearted (a paradox) “adult”. They love you no matter how often you bicker over directions, attitude, or ocean vs. mountains. For the majority of your life they have been the people you talked to when you were at a crossroads, need advice, to gossip – you know they are going to keep a secret, or you ignored when you were over everyone and everything. “Family, a bunch of weird creatures you are surrounded by from birth.”
Friends, people who know what a big idiot you are and are still willing to see you in public. They know where all the skeletons are buried and if one happens to pop back up, help you get rid of them all over again. Someone who finds your specialness charming and quirky – not irritating or embarrassing. They have fantastic stories for your eulogy and know to only use that one amazing picture of you if you ever go missing. How does the saying go… a good friend is someone who will bail you out of jail, but a best friend will be sitting in the cell next to you saying, ‘damn that was fun’.
I come from a small family, there are three of us. Over a decade ago my parents moved to the other side of the country, for a slower pace of life and to try something different – itchy feet and all. I stayed behind for work reasons, to find my independence and to forge my own way in this world – it questionable if that has been a success so far. My relationship with my parents remains close, I visited them at least once a year and talk on the phone once a week – we were never the family that would talk multiple times a day and even if we lived in the same city have weekly dinners. Although there is very limited British in us, we take a very stiff upper lip British approach to our family dynamic. My parents raised me and now it is up to me to make a go at it.
I became closer with my friends during that decade, they became my framily (the ones in the jail cell next to you) – some of them also drifting solo in this city, others had their family here. The people I hold near and dear are a random mix of personalities, preferences, times of my life and priorities in my life. We celebrated milestone, holidays, bad decisions, hangovers (you survived it, it’s worth a celebration) and faced the scariness of adulthood together.
So why leave these collections of souls?
My formative years were spent jumping around and never really being grounded to a place or a person, which means I have a very universal outlook on the relationship in my life. It probably helps that I grew up in a time where technology makes it possible for two people from opposite sides of the country to “sit” in a room together and watch a horror movie (my partner doesn’t believe in them), to help each other make critical decisions like what colour to dye our hair next, and to still be part of the big moments, even if it is virtually. And as anyone who is close to their family – even stiff upper lip ones, you get to a point where you make the decision – do you stay where your friends are or reconnect with your family. My partner and I chose the later. We want to raise Cillian around his grandparents, his aunties, and close-knit extended family in Ireland. We want these weird creatures to influence his upbringing (maybe not all of it – no Meet the McDonaghs), to be part of this crazy adventure and for him to get to know his roots – because if he is anything like us he might find it hard to set them in one specific place.
It won’t be easy to leave our framily, but as life usually does nothing stays the same, and we see our friends less and less as each of us has found our own paths in life, either with a family in tow or on our own. As my Great Grandmother once told me, there is no such thing as good-bye, only see you later, and like her I believe it.