i’m sitting in bed far from my usual home in a guest room that is my second home. outside is covered in snow because winter arrived here six weeks ago and lasts half the year. i came now instead of next month or the next or the next because tonight’s low is a balmy 14 degrees instead of the -20 degrees that drops 30 days from now. i travel 1,140 miles to return to my usual home today which is too soon, but i can’t stay here because the cold confuses my nervous system, freezes my fingers, makes my body and brain feel slow and heavy. i touched a sea anemone yesterday with thick tentacles that felt like condom-wrapped penises in a tide pool exhibit at the zoo. that opportunity, sensation, and experience surprised me. i am surprised every time i visit these people who share my dna, who claim me as sibling when i am biologically cousin. i need them as sisters and brothers because i have other cousins whose middle names and ages and birthdates i can’t remember or never knew, but these cousins that claim me as sister i call by their first and middle names, i am godmother to their children, they tell me their secrets, i tell them my truths. the truth is that i need them more than they need me because they have each other plus their spouses and their kids and their parents and with all that family, adding me as one more makes not too much difference for them but rotates my worldview by 270 degrees because they give me belonging among blood relations that i wouldn’t have without them. they’d each tell you that they love me and need me as much as i love and need them but they don’t know what they can’t know which is what life would be like without them. i know what that life was like and i’m glad i don’t have to live it anymore. they are the only good reason i can conceptualize what other people mean when they say “i love my family” in reference to their family of origin. i have family i have chosen, several people who choose me as family in return and love my wholeness with all its cracks and would give me a kidney if my remaining one fails. and yet in ways these cousins who choose me as sister won’t ever understand, these four siblings fill in my cracks with love that brings me inside a family where i never felt like i belonged until they claimed me. i feel something greater than gratitude which doesn’t have a name and for which there will never be enough hugs, laughter, tears, years, or secrets shared to contain its largeness and for the first time in my life the not-enoughness is a blessing instead of a curse.


About angel joy

love is an action verb. i live love in action.
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