i come from a really huge Italian family.
i love them all, as they are totally accepting and nurturing,
funny and sweet,
kind, and very close.
today we had a family reunion, which brought together relatives
from australia and italy,
gathering together in a park here in upstate new york.
now, i love them, all, as i said,
it's not them that has any issue with my chosen field or sexual identity...
but it's me, i found out, today,
that has trouble connecting and relating to them.
for the last 28 years, since i was just a kid,
when i moved out of upstate new york and relocated myself and my life,
i haven't really had much communication with most of them,
as they had their own lives, started their own families
and had their own problems and triumphs.
yet every holiday i would see them,
and it was as if nothing had changed.
today we all came together, my aunts, uncles, cousins, their hundreds of kids,
my parents, sister, great aunts and uncles,
with my baby and only child, Buddy, my dog.
since im a photographer, i was voted to be the family portrait photographer...
light years away from what i do daily,
i accepted, and shot a ton of candid shots.
as i was shooting, it became clear to me
as i watched my subjects interact,
just how far away from them and their lifestyle i was.
as the day went on, i started to get sad,
depressed, nostalgic, and uncomfortable.
then someone pulled out a family tree...
rolled it out, actualy, because it was huge.
from it, i saw my granparents branch,
extended from that, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, their kids...their grandkids.
i looked closely, trying to see where i fit in,
and as my finger moved across the sheet,
it landed, exactly where it should be,
but, unlike anyone else on the tree,
the timeline stopped.
there were no children blossoming from my loins,
only an empty space, waiting, hopefully,
to be filled.
it hit me hard, made me sad, and somewhat like i did something wrong.
i felt i didn't live up to my end of some bargain...
i had broken a branch of a solid oak,
destroying whatever possibilities it had.
i looked around for Buddy, as he is the closest thing i had around me.
although all these people in the park are all related to me,
although they are all wonderful people who i respect and adore,
they are also people who i can't at all relate to.
my family, my chosen family,
the people who really know me, love me unconditionally,
are people who i have no blood ties with.
yet, with them, i feel my most at ease.
they have become my "real" family...
they are like me, as they are all misfits and outcasts from where they came from.
they, like me, walk the earth with a different outlook...
their goals and dreams are far from what their parents had.
miles from what they ever thought,
and leap years from what they were taught.
they come together, somehow,
find each other, and grow.
become close, and create our own bonds that,
in a way, are closer than if we shared blood.
the people i find myself talking to daily, especially about my problems,
are rarely people in my family.
actually, never, as i doubt that i'd get a good response or reaction.
when i really need an experts opinion,
there's only one place to turn...
my chosen family.
the ones who have helped me so many times,
seen me cracked out,
breaking up with a boyfriend,
jobless, moneyless, homeless...
the ones i can truly count on are the ones who have been there,
through thick and thin. good or bad.
and to them, i say thank you...
i love the fact that they love me, for being me...
which, isn't an easy feat...as i have been trouble more times than not...
so it's good to know that somewhere out there...
in this huge wonderfully scary world,
there are people i can call brothers, sisters, and best friends.
more importantly, family.
happy gay pride week sisters,
you are loved.