FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: I Wanna Know Who You Keep As Family

feature image via From The Front Row/Focus Features

Please put on Alice Smith’s Secrets if you want to get into the same semi-somber mood I’m in while writing this. Let me tell you it was my goal, my aspiration, my hope! to be really positive this week but I’ve got cramps and something slightly life-altering occurred at work and so we’ve got this. Stay with me though – I have stories and we can make this fun!

After having a run in with a probable family member that we’re not going to acknowledge as family cause this mini reunion brought about more questions than answers, I’ve been thinking a lot about family and secrets. Like how keeping secrets to keep a family together is some shit you’re just never prepared for. I think a good chunk of us can understand that in regards to hiding sexuality, mental illness, trauma from family because you think (or know) it’s the only way to keep family together. But I’m wondering, what if I had some people as family and it was about liberating ourselves, not keeping shit secret? If we have to work with blood family and the shit that comes along with it, why aren’t we allowed to imagine more family that helps us through shit?

What I mean is this: Morgan Parker writes in “And Cold Sunset,” from her new book, Magical Negro: “I am not aware who made me.” What I mean is this: I can only trace my family back to my great-grandparents because none of us really can afford to know what happened before them (at least not all at once). After you hear about the KKK coming to your grandfather’s house, your grandmother losing her father when she was only nine, and see another grandfather who walks out on the Roots marathon because, as his wife says, “He can’t watch this anymore. It makes him a different person. Hard for him to come back,” you just don’t keep asking them to go back into their past just so you can get a glimpse of how they came to be who they are. There is a lot of shit to uncover and sometimes you just don’t want to go therapize yourself into grief every day, sometimes you need to believe you’re also worthy of good shit too.

What I mean is this: Carmen wrote earlier this month: “If there’s a crop of rumors surrounding Josephine and Frida, there’s a reason. I understand it intimately. It’s a desire to be seen, to imagine there’s a you before the you that you are now. That, she, too could have found love.” I desire to be seen and it often feels like no one is fucking looking for me so I gotta stay looking for me and make this shit up.

You know, I pull my family from everywhere. I imagine having a queer auntie from the South, that makes me think of Debra Morgan and Diahann Carroll from Eve’s Bayou who saw me coming and intentionally put up protection spells to keep me alive. I imagine having a big uncle with an even bigger deep laugh that always wraps me up in hugs every time he sees me and looks at me with really kind eyes whenever I ask him, “Does you see it too?” and never lies to me when he answers. Throughout middle school, I kept Alicia Keys as my black soft butch role model (and I refuse to believe that she is not some kind of not-straight so don’t even try to convince me otherwise). From elementary school still to this day, Langston Hughes is my great-great uncle that would’ve given me space to write and cry and just *feel* whatever I needed to feel because there’s a lot of poetry in just allowing yourself to feel and work through the truth of yourself. But it’s not just famous people. At work, a customer asked me if it was okay if they vented about something and said, “I didn’t even know I was holding that in.” When I told them it was okay to share they told me, “The world is a good place because of kind people like you,” and they’re my family. Even if we’ve only met once and we’ll never meet again, there’s something to be said about that connection. In high school, my friends and I weren’t on the best terms with our families and we said we were each other’s family (complete with ridiculous backstory documented on a blackboard somewhere that I think included Taylor Lautner, stripping, and a few cases of gender bending) until we couldn’t be family anymore. And even though it didn’t last forever, it got us through some very tough things and that’s what family is supposed to do right? Even if they can’t do that forever.

I wanna know who you keep as family, the kind of family that cheered you on when your family didn’t want to come to your basketball games, the kind of family that stood by you when you came out and keep standing by you, the kind of family that totally understands your alien obsession and reminds you that “you don’t need everyone loving you, just the ones that matter.” (DO YOU MISS BOMB GIRLS LIKE I DO???)

ANYWAYS that’s probably a lot and it’s totally cool if you don’t want to do this unexpected deep dive into the buried crevices of your psyche! Tell me about your week! What’s your pet up to (and can you remind them that I love them)? Did you also have a very interesting sex dream about your friends last night? I wanna hear all about it!


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Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 26 articles for us.

52 Comments

  1. I really like the idea of imagining people you don’t actually know as specific members of your family. I’ve never done that, but it’s a lovely idea!

    I was always kind of taught that “family” were the people you were obligated to love and support unconditionally. I do not *love* the idea of love being an obligation (it’s actually quite f-ed up if you think about it!), so when I think of family now, it’s the people who I choose to love and support with everything I’ve got. I have a “drop everything” list—the people that I would drop everything for if they needed me. Most of them would do the same for me. That’s my family.

    • I totally agree with you, the idea of being obligated to have positive and like really actionable feelings towards people just cause we’re supposed to really doesn’t gel with me! I love the idea of a “drop everything” type of family that you choose, I love it a lot!

  2. My family is my mom and my half siblings. Sometimes my grandma. Other than that, my family is chosen. It’s mainly my BFF tier, my gay friend whom I had a crush on back when we were 9, my bi friend who I’ve known since we were 13 and with whom we once showered together, watching each other and feeling silly and daring and naughty because we didn’t yet know we were queer, but we could sense it somewhere deep inside. Our other best friend, who is now my roommate and I just know that we are ride or die, have known it for over ten years now, the one that keeps me in check and knows what I’m feeling before I know it myself. It’s also another gay friend, the one that was there for me when I came out to myself and then to him, the one who opened the community for me. It’s also my bi friend who used to read my poems and let me paint her face in crazy colors, always up for a photoshoot, always lifting me up. These are just five people who have changed me, moved me, held me up. There’s more than them, but these are my favorite siblings.

    I also see family every time I go out and come across a girl with a green handkerchief, someone with a freedom flag patch, when I lock eyes with someone on the street and share a knowing look. I see family in this comment section.

  3. I have a mix of chosen and blood family. I have a mom who listens without judgment and who showed up at midnight to pick me up from college when I didn’t wanna be there anymore and let me crash on her couch when I broke up with my girlfriend and who buys me chocolate milk and leaves it on my door and always tells me she loves me and has taken me grocery shopping/done my laundry/dropped off meals when my illness gets the best of me. I have a sister who is 3000 miles away but always there through text and Facetime and phone calls and who let me run away to her the summer I was 18 and the world felt like it was falling to shreds and who helped me find my strength when I was trying to leave my not so great anymore relationship and who mailed me muffins when I had yet another dietary restriction pop up. I have a little brother who doesn’t talk too much but will always come by to lend a hand or help me move and who is always up for a rant and a music listening party and a drive. I have a friend from high school who gives the best advice and cheers me on and understands some of my worst traumas and sends me Halloween cards full of black glitter and doesn’t run off when I cancel on plans over and over and makes me feel safe and listened to.
    Oh and I have a cat who makes my apartment feel less empty on the tough days and who lays across my chest when my body is acting up and my brain is raging and won’t be quiet and who reminds me what unconditional love is.

    Also I get to see my friend this weekend and we’re going to eat so much Chinese takeout and watch dumb movies and hang with her cats and explore the city and catch up in person.
    Happy Friday <3

  4. I took the last two years off of dating or sleeping with anyone to focus on building strong friendships, and those people, with whom I have non-romantic relationships, are my family. My friend who I meet with every Sunday at a local cafe to gossip and read the New York Times together, the people who I dance with every week through my local lindy hop group, my weird Quaker roommates who are very loud and friendly, and refuse to watch action movies because they’re too violent.

    Yesterday I had a bunch of undergrads at my college* tell me how cool I was, and everything I did, no matter what it was, seemed cool, and I immediately ruined it by talking about my anxiety and how I’m secretly sure all my friends hate me and are just too polite to say it to my face.

    I don’t have pets right now because aforementioned Quaker roommates are allergic to most things with fur, but I’m thinking of adopting some more plants.

    *I, too, am an undergrad, but I’m a returning student so I’m older than all the other undergrads by at least a couple of years

    • I agree with larrann, I bet you made them feel a little safer, that’s usually how I feel when someone I respect/look up to is vulnerable ! And I’m kind of with your roommates, action movies are like………so ridiculously violent

      What kind of plants are you gonna get? In my mind I’m gonna be a great succulent parent, but will this occur in reality

      I love that you took time to focus on strengthening your friendships, that’s something I wanna be more intentional about

  5. The last few weeks chosen family and friendships have been on my mind constantly! I’ve been really let down by some friends recently and been drawing on the love and support from chosen family to keep me going. But not even directly like present, current chosen family, I’ve just been remembering how people have loved me in the past and it’s been helpful. Some are people who are still in my life and care about me but for whatever reasons can’t be very present for me right now or in the ways I need, and some are no longer are a part of my life but at some point were someone that I shared love with. I find it really challenging to feel close, deeply connected to people for a long time. A number of different queer circles of friends have dissolved as quickly as they came together. But what if people I just met (even just one time) are part of my queer family, because they shared an important experience with me or we shared some love and support when we needed it in the moment? I like to think that maybe those sorts of connections are like an extended queer chosen family. Sometimes laughing and playing uno with a couple people I just met is more loving and healing for me in the moment than having a conversation with a friend I’ve known for years

        • haha YES AND SWEETUMS! They make every day SO GOOD! I may or may not have sung “You are my Sunshine” to them this morning because I felt a little guilty about barely being home yesterday…
          Ps. They LOVE YOU TOO! Here’s a picture of when they TUCKED THEMSELVES IN earlier this week and made my heart do lil flips cause they are too cute!

          • Arrrrgh Jay how do you expect the rest of us to survive this cuteness? Dying over here and I don’t even have any apple cider ice cream in sparkling cider with apple cider syrup reduction to make me feel better. I think I’ll go hide under a fuzzy blanket.

          • Haha! Yes hiding under a fuzzy blanket seems like an appropriate response. And trust me, its rough living with cuteness constantly. They are currently asleep on my chest and it’s a LOT! They are extraordinary!
            Now I want a float!

    • “I’ve just been remembering how people have loved me in the past and it’s been helpful” YES!!!!! i agree with so much here, that we put a lot of emphasis on family having to be people youve known almost all your life/helped you through tough shit, which of course can still fall under the family category, but i love that family can also just be someone who smiled at you on the street when they noticed you wiping away a tear or just being in a space intended for people like you, like even if you never talk, just sharing that space makes you family

      ahhh i really love this

  6. My family is the trinity of women, three generations in my life: my mom, my sister, and my dog. My mom has been in the hospital for the past 2 weeks, which has been really hard on all of us. It has also put things into perspective, about both my trinity of women family and my chosen family. Those who have reached out, offered support, etc.- I have amazing people in my life.

  7. I’d probably keep my parents, sister and grandma despite my father being problematic at time; but, he’s also been supportive of some of the things I’ve done. I’d also keep my best friend despite her being a queer mess at time, I just really love her cause she see me as me and understands what it’s like to be queer, Jewish, and not fitting what society is asking for us. I’d also keep my queer community space as it’s like a family to me with all the friendly and delightful faces every time I am there. Rest of my family is slowly and slowly more conservative leaning that I remember them being in my youth(though maybe the signs were there and I just missed it?).

    My weeks was long as in wow Monday, Tuesday felt way too long of a day. I know not possible. I spent Sunday at home watching One Day at Time as my plans were cancelled. Then Wednesday night spent Galentines day with my best friend/Valentine. It was delightful time for the most part. Might have plans to go to a kitschy hotel for our birthday(which is in the same week) and live it up for a night in kitschy.

    My computer yesterday partially crapped out on me(would not recognized the keyboard) so I had to go to the Microsoft store to have it replaced after work last night(thank goodness for warranties). So I’ve spent the last 15 hours restoring and updating the replacement computer. I don’t have any images to share this week unfortunately.

    Thank you for reading my thread. Hope you have a positive weekend!

  8. Lex, thank you again for this writing. It’s got me in my feelings so deeply, and I appreciate your vulnerability so much <3

    I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about family, and really exploring how I layer my queer chosen family on top of my bio family. I am so close to my mom, and I am always working on my relationships with my dad and brother though they feel complicated and fraught, and then adding the pieces of my queer friendships and family into that mixture is interesting…my mom used to feel jealous of my chosen family but I think she understands now that it’s an *and* not an *instead of.* I’ll think about this more, based on some of your thoughts…I love the idea that a person we meet once in passing, or someone we don’t even know yet, could be family too.

    Love you and love all of you and am very grateful to call Autostraddle my family.

    <3

  9. I also mean to add online family too! I’m so upset that Tumblr went the way it did because for at least four years I met some people who have changed my life for the better and I honestly can’t imagine being anywhere near where I am today without them. I made myself tear up lol PEOPLE CAN BE SO GREAT SOMETIMES WHO KNEW

  10. These are adorable and comforting to read <3

    I don't really have any family at the moment. Earlier this month I moved out of my homophobic parents' house for the first time and have established a no contact policy with them for my own sanity/safety. Hopefully that will give me room and energy for building some chosen family instead in the future, but rn that's pretty non-existent. Except for my cat, who is perfect.

  11. I love your description of the family you imagine for yourself. What a beautiful thought.

    This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, because almost all of my fam – blood or otherwise – are very far away and I’m realizing the toll it takes when all of your most important relationships are facilitated by technology.

    I’ve also been thinking about my maternal grandparents a lot lately because my maternal grandfather was the only one I ever met, the others all died when my parents were very young. I idolized my grandad as a child and I still think he was wonderful, but as an adult I’m far more aware of all his flaws and uncomfortable with how much they mirror my own.

    So of course I asked myself whether that was chance or genetics or something about our respective life experience. But after a half-second of thought, the idea that our life experiences made us alike felt ludicrous: he was one of 18 children, the son of immigrants, a marine fighting in WWII at 17, a father at 21, and a widow at 35.

    I recently realized that were it not for this last fact, I would very likely not exist. I thought of it when I was contemplating religion and how I might have been raised very Catholic, had my mother been more devout. She took us to mass, but the priest was particularly boring and she got embarrassed at my sister and me audibly counting how many times he said “um”. But her mother had been very committed: mass every Sunday, checking the parish door for the list of Church-approved films before they ever went to the cinema. But my mom? She still calls herself Catholic and believes vaguely in God, but couldn’t take it very seriously after her mom died when she was 13 and the priest couldn’t give her a good reason for it.

    Had my grandmother lived, though, my mother would have lived such a different life it seems highly unlikely she would have met my father at the right place and right time. It’s a very unsettling thought to think “My grandma had to die at more or less my age so that I could exist.” Maybe that’s not how the universe works at all, but it’s the thought that keeps turning in my head.

    It’s a shame I never met her. We have a great diary entry of hers somewhere, from after her medical visit to join the women’s army corps, in which she declares that men are without a doubt the weaker sex after seeing soldiers brought out of a room on stretchers only to find out that they had only fainted from fear of the vaccination needle.

    I don’t have a pet of my own, but I am dog sitting this weekend and I will give Django the Malinois-Jack Russell your love.

    • Family history stuff like that is weird to think about, isn’t it? I would not have the same set of clinical skills or research interests that I do without my grandparents’ medical/rehab/general life experiences in their last years.

      I wouldn’t exist if not for misogyny, which only occurred to me in the last month or so as I listened to my mother tell my daughter the story of how she and my dad met: her friend was afraid to go on a blind date alone. (Because Good Girls Don’t? Because she was afraid of what the blind date might do to her? I don’t know but I can’t come up with an explanation that doesn’t have at least a whiff of unspoken underlying misogyny. I’ve been hearing that story since I was a small child and I just now picked up on that…)

      I miss my older relatives. They’re still part of my family in my head. I almost miss them more on my daughter’s behalf than my own; I can tell her stories but she’ll never really know them.

  12. Also! I was walking a golden retriever a few weeks back and this woman who was stuck in traffic saw the dog and broke into HUGE smile and was bouncing excitedly in her seat exactly like I do every time I see a great dog (psa: all dogs are great).

    NO ONE here does this, it’s a much more reserved culture generally speaking and it embarrasses my gf when I do, but I can’t help it. So when I saw this woman freaking out in her car bc she saw a great dog, I knew we were family.

  13. I love this so much, Lex…thank you for sharing your vulnerability here, especially when I know it’s not always our first instinct.

    For me, I think the struggle has been and continues to be to create a bigger chosen family. I spend most of my free time with my actual immediate family: I’ve got my mom, two of my siblings and a host of nephews that live locally and I get so much joy from being present in their lives. Since my dad died, we’ve put an increased emphasis on togetherness so we’re around each other constantly.

    As a consequence, I don’t devote enough time to building (or expanding) my chosen family. I need to make more time for that in 2019.

  14. Can’t imagine a family like that for myself because deep down I feel like I can’t belong to other people that way. That I’m not supposed to belong or have someone belong with me.
    I can open up to only one person at a time like you’re supposed to be able to with and I can’t keep that person, people aren’t possessions. They grow, change and leave you behind trying to make them stay would cause only suffering.

    I have felt like Mozelle being able to see clearly for others, but not for myself and a sense of doom about myself always. Also that movie is the first movie I can remember where the sounds of the outdoors do sound like the South I know and not some generic mix of what people think it sounds like.

    I do have what I call parent hen urges and am kind of the dad friend. My gifts are food related or something silly but useful. Like an adorable animal mug that’s dishwasable or silly socks that’ll keep your toes toasty and make you laugh.
    One of my friends I’m going to teach her basic survival cooking which include shopping and meal planning. I have a lesson plan outline and everything, it kinda looks almost like a book outline >_>

    Speaking of books I do have the ability to build family for characters and am outlining one of my stories for more successfully than I have ever outlined any paper of compositional english and any of the other stories my brain grows.

    My week I accomplished a lot.
    Did some overdue handwashing, finally made that chocolate bark, wrote summary and a plot outline, washed all my dirty jeans, wrote up a lil survey thing for all the meal centered stuff I’ve tagged in this cooking tome I got for Christmas. It’s like a list with a summary of requirements and supplies in my personal shorthand.
    The chocolate bark was a learning experience because I’d never melted down quality baking chocolate before and my double boiler is more suited to uh like marshmallows and cream kinda things.

    Did I mention last week I managed to frost a 2 layer mini cake and make frosting?
    It was structurally sound and looked like one whole cake not two cakes fighting for dominance. It was awesome and I gave a piece to my frosting loving friend. She inhaled it, tried to slow down and save some for later it was just too good.

  15. Also Debbi Morgan was robbed, Eve’s Bayou in general was robbed, she wasn’t nominated by the Academy for her role as Mozelle.
    Was it the rule in the 90’s to only nominate 5 actresses or just a custom?

    She only got two awards Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female and Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress.
    And 2 nominations; one from Satellite Awards and the other from the NAACP Image Awards.

    Like I knew Eve’s Bayou was under-nominated but adult me now has access to the details and ouch…yeah Black Panther was the stuff of dreams made film and the impact on future art will be historic, but the Oscars and Hollywood still haven’t done enough.

  16. I loved reading this piece – thank you so much for your vulnerability.
    I find family very complicated and sometimes different facets of my identity are at odds with my relationships. I’m not out to my biological family but as a disabled person they have always been the people to advocate for me, support me and provide me the space to shine. Even in spite of their homophobia, I can never overlook those qualities.
    I want a queer family to fill this gap, a chosen family as you say, but as a disabled person I sometimes feel infantalised or excluded from queer spaces. So, I guess each type of family can only support one facet of my identity, and even if they do it well, sometimes I crave total acceptance so desperately.
    So, for now, my chosen family is also the few friends who openly embrace both of these things. I have a friend from high school who will always come to queer spaces with me because she knows it helps me feel more at ease to interact. And, I met a friend on exchange who never presumed things about my disability and would always ask questions before acting and that is the best kind of ally. When I came out to her she told me she wasn’t surprised and that made me feel so seen.
    I have no idea what I’m really saying here but I guess for me finding a chosen family feels hard because society still struggles with intersectionality.

    • Hi, your post resonated so much with me!!! Your words reflect my sentiments exactly! I have felt somewhat welcomed in most queer spaces where I have dared to cautiously plant a big toe, however, I can’t help but fear that the awkwardness and fear of my disability that haunted my high school peers will follow me into these new spaces where I truly crave acceptance now more than I ever have! The shadow that follows me is the fear of rejection by these new communities.

    • “Even in spite of their homophobia, I can never overlook those qualities.” Holding that duality is really hard and just. wanted to say I see you in that.

      ” finding a chosen family feels hard because society still struggles with intersectionality.” YES THIS IS VERY TRUE i dont know how to fix that but i really hope that more queer intersectional chosen family finds you soon

  17. My mom has always been my best friend. We’ve always shared absolutely everything. The problem is, she’s in a quite dysfunctional, emotionally abusive relationship, and I can’t stand sharing her with someone who doesn’t respect her. I enjoy being with her sister and her brother (my aunt and uncle).
    The role model thaat i only wish I knew, and only wish I were related to is Robin Morgan, a second-wave feminist, poet and host of the WMC Live show. She is so eloquent, smart and fiery. She is the grandma that I really wish I had.
    I’m sad to say, I’m still working on gaining real chosen famly. I’ve always struggled to get close to people. I have a lot of acquaintances, and a lot of people who would probably call themselves my friends. But I have a really hard time creating deep, meaningful, long-lasting friendships. Sometimes I feel like maybe I don’t share enough because I’m terrified of sharing too much. Or maybe it’s just that none of us truly have the time to spend in order to make that happen. My goal for this year is to work really hard to change that, and I’m really trying to get out there and meet new folks, and reconnect with some of these friends I already have. But there is only so much that is up to me. I can’t help it if they keep saying no when i invite them to hang out, or politely humor me for a little while and then show much more interest in someone else. Most people probably think I’m some sort of freak.

    • I don’t think you’re a freak.

      it makes a lot of sense to be worried about what is enough and what is too much when trying to connect with other people and im really glad you know that not all of this is on you, that youre doing the work and people definitely have to meet you at least halfway. im not really sure what im trying to say here just that, as someone who has also had someone im excited to get to know, turn to someone else instead, i hope you find your people soon and i hope they treat you right.

      that sounds so terrible and im so sorry for your mom and for you.

  18. I’m a woman who only left my hometown for college and then returned to Seattle. My wife is the same. Our family is comprised of her parents, my dad, my sisters, her sister and family, and a few of both of our friends, some of which date back to high school. I was pleased as punch to gain nephews after Jen and I got serious about each other since neither my sisters nor I am interested in producing kids currently.

    But for me, the best expression of this queer kinship that includes blood but is not restricted by it is what happened when we moved. Both my sisters, Jen’s first love, and 6 other cherished friends showed up with their cars to help move all our things from Seattle to Kent, 30 min south. Some of them had driven down south to Seattle for 40 min to be there for us. They helped lift all our heavy things and made multiple trips for love of us and some Domino’s pizza. I have never felt so loved in my life.

    Finally there is my gay uncle. My mother’s closest sibling growing up, they had a falling out in their 20’s as she got more invested in conservative Christianity and he developed a drinking problem. She blamed homosexuality for the drinking problem. I suspect societal disapproval, isolation from his family, and the AIDs crisis had more to do with it. I met him only once before my mother’s funeral: there is a picture of him holding me as an infant. I think of this as a benediction from my gay uncle to his gay niece. Maybe I wouldn’t like him if we spent time together (hard because he’s back in the Midwest), but I like to think of him as embodying all my queer kin stretching back and across time and space, resilient, strong, flawed, hurt, and forging a path that made mine a little easier to tread.

    • Never too late to a thread! Thank you for reading and replying! And thank you so much for this, I was pretty worried it was TMI but we only live once, let’s all get to really know each other, people need people and more things my therapists tell me

  19. I’ve been pondering this all weekend.

    I come from a pretty dysfunctional extended family with a few dark secrets, so it was incredibly liberating in my teens and 20s to realize that I could pick and choose who I wanted to count as family and who I didn’t.

    For me now, in my 40s, I feel like I’m really clear on who my people are – what I’m most interested in isn’t WHO my family is but HOW I want to relate to them. And especially how do I want to relate to those who are younger than me – what kind of aunt and cousin do I want to be?

    It’s also interesting to me to note how chosen family works with the next generation.

    • I love how you’re thinking about what kind of aunt and cousin you want to be, how you think about how you relate to them now. I never thought about what kind of family I’ve been or how I can be better family until my cousin was born (he’s sitting with me right now funny enough) 14 years ago and it’s still something I need to focus on. Thank you for talking about that, I never think of how there’s a kind of “after” when you choose your family.

      • My uncle – my dad’s brother – has a pretty large family of choice, which is what made me think about it. He’s uncle to a lot of young adults (and not so young adults as we all get older) that are not blood relatives because he’s so close to their parents.

        I consider the kids of his two best friends to be my cousins – not by blood, but I honestly don’t know what else to call them. And he kind of adopted my college roommate / best friend as another niece. Even after she and I had a major friendship breakup, I told her she could keep my uncle and cousins.

        Because my uncle didn’t marry or have kids of his own, me and my cousins, whether cousins by blood or cousins by choice, will be the ones who take care of him in his old age.

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