Turning Water to DNA

So here is one of these personal entries that I share with the public, presumably because I have some buried tendancy towards emotional exhibitionism, or because, as the youngest of my family, I’m acting off of a long-established understanding-through-experience that most people don’t pay attention to things that I say, so whatever I post here is likely not to be read. (Jk, jk!)

Anyway. Some of you might know about this, and now the rest of you will too: for Christmas 2010 my brothers and I got something I refer to as the LLHB. That stands for our Long-Lost Half Brother. Yup. Dad laid it out for us, how it went down years before he knew our mother, how she’s known too–don’t worry–, and how he finally tracked the kid down. “Kid” meaning 36-year-old successful tattoo artist in San Diego.

So, needless to say, this is a Big Deal. It takes some time to digest. There were a lot of questions, a lot of “dang, I guess if I ever have a secret I know who I can tell.” And also a lot of “Well, why is this a big deal?” Why does it matter if there is another person out there half-comprised of my father’s DNA? A big part of the shock was that, well, my family is as nuclear as it gets, and I just would have never expected this from my father. It makes you wonder, makes you look back, makes you imagine the turmoil he must have felt all these years looking for his son, wondering what his other kids and the world would think if they knew…

But meanwhile, here we are now, and I have an older half brother that I’ve emailed a little bit with, skyped with once. And on Friday, I’m going to meet him face-to-face.

So, yeah, big deals all aside, let’s get back to that awkward question of “Why does it matter?” Because here’s the thing: you can’t pick your relatives, but you do create your family. My family hasn’t always gotten along well, but we made an effort because we’d shared a lifetime together, and we had that familial bond thing going on. But this new guy is just DNA.

I don’t say this to be cold. I’m excited to meet him, and for the potential of a cool new family member. But I’m nervous, I guess, about not getting along with him. Sounds silly, I know. But meeting someone who is going to be a part of our lives in one way or another for years to come–someone who we will potentially be sharing my father’s love with (to be dramatic)–is kind of important.

So what is family? Is it the people you share DNA with? Is it the people you share your life with? Is it the people that you, for some reason, think are worth making an effort to get along with and stay in touch with? Is family the people who will be there for you when every one else deserts you? Or is it something else? When do people stop being just related to you, and actually become family?

These are some thinky thoughts, people. Very thinky thoughts. In the meantime, I’m going to try to take things lightly, and hope we have a great time this weekend. If anything, it’s just another kind of adventure.

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