I had the good fortune of being raised not just by my momma & daddy, but also by aunts, cousins, and grandparents. It, in fact, did take a village to raise me and my brother, and from all accounts I've heard (and the clips of VHS home movies I've witnessed) I was just about too much for one person to handle for any extended period of time. I was a good kid, but I tend to think that once my little personality started to develop, my family stood back and thought, "where'd she come from? And just what exactly are we supposed to do with her?" as I literally ran in circles in the backyard (probably wearing a Mary Lou Retton leotard) having *serious* conversations with my imaginary friends. Let's face it - I've always been kind of weird. Either way, my family has for the most part accepted me for who I was - even if they disagreed with my decisions or wanted (or even prayed, don't get me started) for me to take different turns as the roads of life started to fork off in all kinds of different directions.
I've realized, however, that the process of "being raised" certainly doesn't end when you turn 18. After I moved away, my friends took over responsibility for that process, and at every new city, new school, or new adventure, my friends have become my family. How very blessed and lucky I am to have somehow managed to meet and befriend the absolute coolest people on the planet. Unfortunately, it's also what makes moving on and changing so difficult. While I know that my family will pretty much always live within a 10 mile radius of each other, somewhere in the western/central corner of Limestone County, Alabama, and it'll be relatively easy to go back and see them whenever I want, my friend-family continues to spread out, grow, and change. Friend-families are special because they are very time and location sensitive. For example. I can easily go back to Florence or Auburn, two places I've lived that are very close to my heart. I know how to get there. But it's not the same as it used to be, because Allison, Nisey, KiKi and KB won't be sitting at the picnic table outside Powers Hall to distract me from working and convince me to go to the Kappa Sig house instead. And even if I do go back to the Supper Club, and even if I was with Loren, Lindsey, Lex, and Anne, and it was in the middle of the night after we'd gotten tired of Bodega, the chance that we'd run into the boys we chased or students we tried to avoid is slim to none. Some of us are no longer interested in chasing boys anyway. But we'd certainly be excellent wing-women for those in the group who are... Sorry, Bon Jovi, but I say it's nearly impossible to go home.
I'm sentimental about leaving Kentucky. Can you tell? It happens. I've been through this before. And it never really gets any easier. I am fully aware that I have attachment issues, with both people and places. It's really strange this time because I've spent *so* little time here, really. I'm transient. I've lived my life in A-50, and on I-75. I'm rarely here on the weekends, and haven't fully adopted a life here. But then again I have, and that life is the collective group of friends I've made. It'd probably be less emotionally draining if I'd just stayed in one place my entire life. But then, I think about the people that I love, that I call family, that have made me a better person, that I never, ever in a million years would have met otherwise, and I know that it's worth the emotion. I know that I'll remember days like today, Easter, when we had a potluck lunch after church. It felt just like being home at my grandmother's house - just without the porch and same people. That feeling of love, belonging, and support was definitely there, as it always is when I'm with anyone I consider family. We have a shared history - both my friend-family and real family - and both families have been instrumental in helping me figure out who I am. That's what a family is all about - no blood bond necessary.
Family is also about sharing recipes. This one is my mom's fruit dip, that I love. It's simple and delicious. I made it last night, and Bob, Mitch and I devoured it and the fruit I had so cutely placed on a little Auburn platter. For some reason Mitch kept making fun of Bob using toothpicks to eat the fruit... maybe it was just the beer. Here is:
Best Fruit Dip Ever
1 jar marshmallow cream
1 8-oz package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
splash of lemon juice or pineapple juice
Combine all ingredients together with a hand-held mixer, fork, or food processor. Chill for one hour, and serve with strawberries, grapes, pineapples, or apples.
Trust me, it's way better than any of the pre-made fruit dip out there, and it makes a ton. Great for your summer gatherings with friends, families, and friend-families.