Sunday, January 20, 2008

In A Family Way

Nope, not what you think. Holding a baby would be like juggling a ticking bomb.

Yet, here's the thing about make your own whether you have the ovaries for it or not. Yeah, there's all that rat-a-tat-tat about blood lines and DNA, but in the end your family is made up of people who put you first, who love you even when you disappoint them -- the men and women you want to share a meal with and then leave the dishes till morning.

In 1995, shortly after I met my soon-to-be-husband, the Surgeon, he flew me to the East Coast to meet his parents. I understood the enormity of this visit so I made sure to wear a silk blouse and not talk Chicano slang or some shit like that. Dinner was bone china and Waterford crystal, pot roast and an ancient Cabernet. Somewhere between the soup coarse and the main dish, the fighting began. Mama Surgeon and Papa Surgeon dusted it up, screaming at each other across the mahogany table until the ensuing silence turned into desert. Later, Mama Surgeon snarked to her son, "Darling, if it's a wife you want, I'm not sure the Peace Corp is the best place to look." And all that time, I thought I was using the little fork correctly.

Fast forward to Steel Town, where the Ranger Relatives gather with noisy plates and laughter, cheap beer and chicken wings. They love each other with abandon. They poke. They rib. They tattle. They argue about the Steelers. And before bed, every one gets a hug goodnight. Even the dog.

So this Bud's for you, Steeltown. And to our families. Yours and mine. How quickly they expand.

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