I need to preface this post and say that I love my family. Love. Love. Love. With my whole heart. I'd hardly change a thing about them. One of the reasons that I will not allow myself to move home is because I know that it would end up with me hanging out with them and no one else, happy as a clam. Because when I am with them, it's really the only place I'd rather be. They - for the most part - accept me as I am: the introverted, weirdo sister that likes history and reading, BBC, dressing up, and formal dinners (that have things like peppers! and spices! Oh my.) amongst a million other things that they just shake their heads at me and love me anyway.
I love them. Except...
I have several friends who because my family is so far away, have introduced me to their own parents and siblings and all have seemingly welcomed me with open arms. It's been lovely to have a place to go on holidays and for short visits and to feel love like only a family can provide.
If there were one thing about my family that I could change, I would make them read more. I would instill upon them my love of books and get them excited about some of the best books that I have read in the past few years. The more I hang out with one of my surrogate families, the more I really wish I could do this.
This particular family is filled with irreverent, hilarious people who are all Harry Potter trivia warlords. When we are on long drives, we play things like 20 Questions - Harry Potter, in which the person tries to stump the rest of the car by picking a most obscure magical creature, item, or place, character, or spell or literally anything, and then everyone else guesses it within the 20 questions. It is hilarious, and the fact that their dad seems to be reigning master over stumping everyone is even more impressive. They have debates over the details of these books. They know the characters intimately, can quote them (probably recite them) and are just geniuses at taking allusions from the books and making them work in other aspects of their lives. It's fun.
Now that Harry Potter is long over (we think...?) another book has come upon the scene and thankfully, I was put on the group text between all the siblings who have read The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Which means that randomly, in the middle of the day or night, my phone starts lighting up as somebody comes up with a theory or anecdote about the book, and then everyone debates or expands on the idea. Or we all commiserate on how the third book in the trilogy is much too far away from being published.
When I attended the wedding of one of the brothers, we all put references to The Name of the Wind in his guest book. It may have been the most hilarious thing I have ever witnessed/participated in at a wedding.
I wish I could joke with my siblings and send random quotes from shared books that we have read. I wish that we had the easy-going ribbing and joking that comes so naturally to my friends' family members. The Armstrongs are not stiff, stodgy people. We are quite relaxed and...comfortable. But if I could, I would give us more wit. I would give us the easy bantering of shared interested and mutual love and respect that I know we have, but we just don't always know how to display. I would give us a little bit of irreverence that almost always ends in smirking and laughter.
I wish I didn't live so far away, because I feel like in the past ten years I have lived in Utah, I've missed a lot of bonding time with my siblings. I maintain a close relationship with most of them, but it is only as close as a quick phone call can lend. And it's not always enough.