29 February 2012

Family Ties

“[...] I grew up out of that strange, dreamy childhood of mine and went into the world of reality. I met with experiences that bruised my spirit - but they never harmed my ideal world. That was always mine to retreat into at will. I learned that that world and the real world clashed hopelessly and irreconcilably; and I learned to keep them apart so that the former might remain for me unspoiled. I learned to meet other people on their own ground since there seemed to be no meeting place on mine. I learned to hide the thoughts and dreams and fancies that had no place in the strife and clash of the market place. I found that it was useless to look for kindred souls in the multitude; one might stumble on such here and there, but as a rule it seemed to me that the majority of people lived for the things of time and sense alone and could not understand my other life. So I piped and danced to other people's piping - and held fast to my own soul as best I could.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

I remember when I was about three, maybe four, going to bed with Anne of Green Gables clutched in my hands. I would turn the pages endlessly, spotting words I recognized, pouring over the pictures, wishing more than anything in the world to be old enough and smart enough to read that book.

It's one of those fortunate books where every time I read it it's like the first time again. I get the same excitement. The same surprises and a few new ones. Every time I read it, it's like coming home.

Which is a mercy, because occasionally "home" for me is a place where I feel rather set apart. I don't think I really realized this for myself until I left home and had the chance to have the luxury of preference. I realized that many of the standard things we just "do" in my family weren't things I hated, but would never choose for myself. For example, most of my family would gladly choose a tropical vacation with hours spent on the beach sipping virgin strawberry daiquiris and wearing nothing but a swim suit for a week, but I would choose the rainy northwest with its green hills and many trees and beaches not made for swimming but for sitting. I'd go to art museums and theaters and used bookstores instead of bowling or game nights. My family loves a good chick flick or inspirational sports movie, but in the last few years I've realized that I'm a bit of a movie snob (much to the inconvenience of others) and prefer movies that are artistic and thought provoking over the popular "escapist" fare most people prefer. Many times I find myself feeling like I don't quite belong.

But, then, before I get too carried away down that path I have to remember that there are things I share. My grandfather's love of teaching and jazz music. My other grandfather's love of work. Love of travel and writing and the gospel from both sides of the family. My grandmother's love of dance. My mother's love of harmony and cleanliness. My dad's love of order and his determination. My great grandparents and their love of music and theater. Photography from my uncle.

My particular set of genes may be a bit peculiar and my ideal world perhaps a bit strange, but I am not, at least, a complete anomaly. I am still "a part of all that I have met."

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