Lesson #1770 :
Square peg + massive force =
jam into round hole but still does not “fit”
I’m a semester away from high school graduation. The last place I want to be is in the midst of a family reunion with loads of people swarming about.
I have not seen most of these people in at least ten years.
Besides intensely disliking large gatherings, I even more intensely dislike large gatherings with people whom I’m supposed to pretend to be happy to see when in fact neither one of us can remember the other’s name since the last reunion we attended—whenever that was.
Nonetheless, I am here. I feel lost, awkward. I’m a feral Siamese—hanging out with packs of Great Danes, German Shepherds, and St. Bernard’s—skittish, freaked, and ready to scratch your eyes out.
I scan the packs, trying to find the one St. Bernard that I can actually trust. He’s my hiding place under the bed when I have no bed under which to hide.
I finally spot him.
I simultaneously admire and envy my youngest brother, Geoff. He makes this all look so easy.
I sit there quietly, watching Geoff and the ease at which he mingles through the crowds of family and relatives.
Suddenly someone taps me on my shoulder, “Hello there. Are you supposed to be here, honey?”
“Excuse me?” I say.
“Did you come here with someone? Are you supposed to be here?”
“I’m sorry, what? I don’t understand.”
“This is the Chatham Family Reunion.”
“Oh, I see—uh, yes, I know. I’m Missy. That’s my Dad over there.”
“Oh, really? I’m sorry. You’re who?”
“I’m a Chatham. I’m adopted.”
“Oh. Really. Yes, okay.” The woman furrows her eyebrows. She still looks a bit confused and equally perturbed. She quickly turns away and wanders off.
I sit there feeling small and misplaced. Someone, please, get me out of here.
But I have to stay.
These strangers are my family—whether they believe it, or don’t believe it.
Whether I feel it, or I don’t.
We are all family.
* * *
Even though that happened almost twenty years ago, it still makes me wince.
I don’t remember what the woman looked like or who she was. But I don’t feel too bad about it, because I’d bet a million bucks that if she saw me again, she’d still ask me ever so kindly, as though I were a five-year old foreigner, Are you supposed to be here, Honey?
* * *
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