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This past weekend, I finally did it. It was a difficult choice, but I knew there was no way around it. I went home to visit my parents. While my once a month visits in college seemed like more than enough for all of us, my parents now treat me like a first-born son coming back from war after three years as a POW. In every conversation, my parents made a point to tell me how glad they were I was home. When I told them I needed to leave early get some class work done, my father’s disheartened look was enough for me to realize an early departure would only leave me feeling guilty the entire trip back.

Trip Highlights:

Mom: Is it okay if we just put a mattress on the floor for you?
Me: I can just sleep on the floor in the living room like before.
Mom: You said you didn’t lke that so we put the bed together last time.
Me: Dad did that without you knowing. You told me to sleep on the floor.
Mom: Oh, like I never do anything for you.
Me: It’s only one night… I need to go back early to get school work done.
Mom: Oh, be quiet. You’re staying two nights. We’ll make up the mattress.

 

 

Mom: You have no ass. Your pants are sagging.”
Me: “Do you think I need a smaller size?”
Mom: Examining me and grabbing my thigh, “Not with those things.”

 

Sister: In Boston, after a group of girls cut in line to be with their friends. “People have got no manners. It’s not okay.” Then proceeded to try to knock them down on the dance floor with limited success.

 

Me: Mouth full of chocolate chip pancake.
Mom: “Are you eating down there? I’m afraid you’re not eating. Are you anorexic?”
Me: Still chewing… “I just had four pancakes…”

 

Mom: “Lauren has the best nose of all of us; your father has the worst.”
Sister: “Lauren’s nose is better than mine?”
Mom: “No, no. That’s not what I meant.”
Sister: “How is her nose better than mine? Her nose is smaller than mine?”
Mom: “No, your nose is smaller… They’re both very nice noses.”
Sister: “I can’t believe you said her nose was nicer than mine…”

 

Mom: “Older men love young girls. They can’t help it.”
Dad: Rolls his eyes at mom.
Sister: “Dad hates you.”

 

Me: “I forgot to buy soup and shaving gel…”
Dad: “Do you want my shave gel?”
Me: “I’m all set; I’ll stop by CVS.”
Mom: “Make a list; we’ll come down next weekend.”
Me: “You’re not coming down next weekend.”
Me: “Wait, are you coming down next weekend?”
Dad: “Your mom just wants to go to the beach; it has nothing to do with you.”

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Today I accidentally referred to my roommates as my family. My slip made me pause for a moment to think about what it actually means to be a family.

I spend most of the year with these people afterall. We have witnessed each others best and worst moments; the absolute pinnacles of happiness and the absolute most heart-wrenching moments of sadness. We make small talk over the dining room table and argue about whose  turn it is to take out the garbage. We act as one another’s mother, sister, best friend, and weird aunt who offers to give you a nickel if you rub out her bunion…

Being a family it seems comes less from genetics than  from the unconditional love you can have for someone, even after you’ve seen them wipe earwax on the wall or pick particles of food from their fingernails or sleep with a giant Robert Pattinson blanket….

As weird as they are (and trust me, they’re weird), I think there are still stranger family dynamics than our own.

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