I think every kid has a fantasy that they’re really adopted. They look into their family’s faces one day and find more resemblance to the neighbor’s cat. I know when I’d be particularly irritated at Mom, I’d question Dad “I’m really the milk woman’s daughter, aren’t I? I can take it; Dad I just need you to be honest right now.” And he would confess that it wasn’t the milk woman, it was the post gal and that was why I was particularly good at licking things and loved receiving mail. If I were irritated with both of them, I’d curse the malicious nurses who’d swapped me for that luckier kid – the one leading my perfect life, going to the perfect school, wearing the perfect clothes and driving the perfect car while I rode on the not so perfect bus wearing the softer side of Sears. Eventually, you get over it. You can’t deny that you do look kind of like them if you squint, it’s dark and you’re drunk and they can actually make you laugh on occasion if no one is looking. They can even not be embarrassing in public… if they’re distracted and your friends aren’t around.
Then one day, you grow up and you accept the fact that the whole “they’re aliens” thing probably isn’t true even though the signs are occasionally there and that’s why you have your friends.
I admit, that in our family we’re spread out all over the place and don’t really “know” each other. Sure, we could whip out each other’s full names if pressed and might be able to mention an interest or two, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one knows where the other one was born. They might be able to guess and be close, but with the exception of the aunts that were there, I’m willing to bet most of my relatives can’t name the city I was born in without help. The same goes for me; I haven’t got a clue. Dallas? Sure! That’s my final answer. I’m going to say 10 cousins were born there and 3 were born in Sweet Water or San Angelo – that’s my guess. (Quick aside: This is with the exception of my cousin Kim who is for all practical purposes my sister. I don’t care what the family tree shows; it’s wrong.)
So, if you’re me and occasionally stuck in front of a keyboard and are extremely bored, you start Googling names of relatives (I use Metacrawler personally speaking.) to see if you can glean something about these people – maybe there is one relative out there that is just like you. And what I’ve found is oftentimes entertaining, but it does more to reaffirm the whole “alien” theory I had when I was 12 than not. And it does explain why, at holiday gatherings, these people occasionally misstep when speaking to you in ways your friends would DIE if they heard (and you’ll tell them as soon as you can escape – I call this my “oh, I forgot to tell Jay I just arrived – I’ll be outside on the porch” time). You forgive these little transgressions because you read what they’re saying and you know you must be just as alien to them. (The movie that resonates with me is: Home for the Holidays – for this very reason.) Still, you swap presents (and you say THANK YOU because you weren’t raised by ingrates), stories, good times and photos (showing the marks that are the proof you needed all along about the abductions).
On this day, I give thanks to all of you little aliens. We may not always “get” each other, but I love you all just the same – you’re interesting, fun, funny (sometimes unintentionally, but you make good fodder when I go out with friends), kind, loving people. I may not have “chosen” you, but I love you and love it that you’re all a part of my family. I know your family on Rigel II must miss you very much.