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When Daughter Came To Town
#69 - Family is Forever. And Chosen Family Counts too.
“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”
Your Story is Written By You
Years ago, I lived in San Francisco. And during most of that period of my life, I was a scared kid, spiraling in search for meaning outside myself.
Back then, the idea of having a Wife and Children scared me to my core, because I honestly didn't believe I was worthy of love. I saw myself as fragmented, and I yearned to feel whole.
And during my time in The City, I met many special people who felt like members of a family I longed to have for myself, while I felt so distant from mine.
Until, one day, I realized exactly who these special people were. They were my Chosen Family, and they were giving me exactly the love I needed, but in a different form than I expected.
And one special member of my Chosen Family was Ashley. A bright young woman still in her teens, who had been on her own in the world since she was even younger.
I was older than her, and our energies aligned in a way where I naturally became a supporter in her life. And after a few galvanizing experiences together, we light-heartedly started calling each other, "Father", and "Daughter".
The names fit, and felt natural. And now, over ten years later, they remain.
Two Years Went By Like No Time At All
When I exited San Francisco in 2020 with my life packed onto a bicycle, I was scared to tell Daughter I was leaving. She was the one person I didn't feel ready to say goodbye to yet.
I was going to miss our monthly dinners out on the town. We used to take Family Photos at each of our meals, and I always tried to bait her into throwing up a middle finger with me for at least one of the shots.
But we each had a noble task to handle on our own. I had to take the ride of my life, and she had to finish putting herself through Grad School.
That was over two years ago, and we’d been keeping up on the phone, but hadn’t seen each other since my last week in SF. Until a couple months ago when she sent me some flight itinerary screen shots.
Her message said, "Do these dates work for me to come see you?"
And I practically jumped out of my chair in excitement as I pounded out the response, "OMG YES PLEASE".
Time accelerated in the way it only does when you have something to look forward to, and before I knew it, I was driving an hour to the airport to pick her up, with Juice in the back seat.
And when I pulled up to find her standing on the curb, beaming a toothy smile, my heart sprang open, and I jumped out to hug her while Juice wiggled furiously around the car.
We loaded her bags, and she giggled as he bolted straight into her lap. It was his first time meeting Daughter, and he already knew our special bond. He knew she is part of our family, and he smothered her in puppy kisses while riding shotgun with her.
We picked up right where our last conversation left us, and it felt like no time had passed at all since I had last seen her. And with background tunes bumping, we headed back to town.
Our Time Together
Daughter naturally fit right into our home—it was a joy to feel her energy mixed in the space.
When we got back from the airport, we sat down and collaborated on a to-do list, which she scripted in marker in her notebook. And for the rest of our weekend, we worked through the items on our list, together.
We spent our mornings drinking coffee and talking about our memories together, along with how our lives and feelings about them have been evolving since our last hug.
We talked honestly about our wins, and our struggles, along with the mental shifts we are making to overcome them. We listened deeply to each other, and shared compassion.
We both needed to be seen in our own ways, and our time together proved we are both students and teachers of each other at the same time. An equalized support system, where each person's experience offers something of value to the other, despite our chosen familial roles.
In the afternoons we walked around town with the Juiceman, enjoying the Sun. I told her of the crippling Winter which Spring had only just melted, and how she had chosen to visit at the perfect time of year between the Seasons of Ice and Fire.
We posed for funny Family Photos together and snapped each moment of laughter.
And since she was inspired to try some shooting while in town, we drove to the local Archery Center. Alone on the range, snapping arrows at tattered targets, we made the most of our limited time together.
Her Cheshire grin was mirrored by my own. Laughing and joking, we took turns shooting, and pulling our prized bull's-eye arrows from the stacks.
In the evenings we crafted delicious dinners and baked sweet snickerdoodle cookies. I was honored to share my passion in the kitchen with her, cooking from scratch, together, to prepare food with intentful energy.
And to cap it all off, we enjoyed the sweet movie, "Inside Out", with extra cinnamon on our cookies.
And as we each retired to our rooms for one last sleep, I realized I already had everything I wanted and needed in my life.
Juice was snuggled up against me in our warm house, Daughter was down in her room, and we each went to bed feeling fulfilled.
Time Flies When You're Having Fun
Before we both knew it, our long weekend together was over, and we shared one last impactful conversation on the car ride back to the airport.
"I was hoping we hadn't outgrown our names for each other", she told me. "I love how you're like a Father to me".
"I was hoping the same. You will always be Daughter to me. And I love you, kiddo", I replied.
You Have It All Already
Over the years, my mindset has evolved, and I now aspire to create a family with someone wonderful, when the time is right.
And recently I felt sad for a period, because I thought I had come to a point where that vulnerable dream was going to materialize, but it didn't.
Yet, during my time with Daughter, I palpably felt like a proud Father whose kid was home for a visit to spend time together. I felt supportive and supported at the same time, in the way I do with my Blood Family.
So I ask myself, what is "Family" then? Do you really have to be related by Blood to be Family?
In my view, a family is a tribe of Hue-Mans who support each other in meaningful ways. They are your closest people, who you trust will be there for you when you need them.
And Daughter and I have that trust in each other.
At its core, what is Life, but a story? And what is a story without its structure?
Family is a story as well. A story of collective shared experiences, values, traditions, and beliefs. A structure of the continual inheritance of Life.
I love my Blood Family in ways I didn't know I was capable of, years ago when I lived in The City. I needed to spend that dark time away from them in order to understand our connection, which now is stronger than ever.
And while I have never made a baby with Woman, I do have a Delightful Daughter of my own.
Her beautiful soul shines through her eyes, and through her hands as she passionately works to help youngsters feel better about themselves every single day.
And she knows I'm proud to be her Father, forever.
Love you, kiddo. You are amazing. And I thank you for traveling to visit us.