As a kid, family was pretty cut and dry. Mom, dad, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and the occasional family friends we were told to refer to as aunt or uncle. I grew up knowing that family was blood, who you were born to, and who gave birth to you.
I'm grateful for this version of family, for sure. Maybe 22 years ago, I had different feelings, but who among us wasn't different then?
When we moved to Philadelphia in 1998, we didn't know anyone aside from Miki's coworkers and one or two of my classmates. All of our friends and family were home, and we were away. The internet changed that, though. Early on, I haunted some forum or another for Tori Amos (OMG, I was going to love her forever) (I somehow haven't purchased any of her albums since Pele), and by virtue of following link after link, I found various webpages and weblogs, and found quasi-invisible friends. For a self-identifed shy girl (yes, I think of myself as shy, but maybe what I really mean is unconfident?), this was a fantastic way to talk to people without actually talking to people. Win!
But as the internet got faster, and bigger, and also somehow smaller, I started finding real people online that were like me - they shared my interests, or intellect, or sense of humor. I found my tribe.
My idea of family is now so much richer than when I was a kid. I don't think that's necessarily a profound statement, you know?
My life is so rich with friends that I consider family, and I wouldn't even know how to begin listing them all without ending up sounding like an awardee at the Oscars getting cut off as they go on and on remembering 5 more people that mean so much to them.
Also, combing the hard drive and FB for photos of friends and family reminds me that I just don't have enough photos of the people that mean the most to me. I think that needs to change. :-)