Family = Friends ??

This blog has been a long time coming in my head. It all started around March when I found out that my cousin in Oregon was getting married. I moved from Oregon when I was 13, and after this move I lost contact with most of the members of this particular family. They were the family I grew up thinking was the coolest….cool house, cool cars, cool clothes, etc… They were fun to be around and spend holidays with. Even though I had other cousins that were lovely and fun to be around, and accepted me unconditionally…I wanted these cousins to LIKE me. When I moved away, and as the children in that family grew up, my bond with this family dimmed somewhat. I didn’t visit often enough to keep close ties, and it was before everyone was email saavy and cell phone-toting. There’s been a part of me for the last decade or so that felt like I missed out on some great years with this family. The last time I’ve seen any of them was at my Grandpa Watson’s funeral in 2002.

Last year, on a whim, I decided to look for these cousins on Myspace. I was happy to find three of them, and quickly added them as friends. One lives in LA, and I was hoping that I would get to meet up with him since we were living in the same metropolitan area. I started leaving comments and inviting him to get together for dinner. Most comments went unanswered, or had a very non-committal reply. I figured it would take some kind of family occasion to finally see them again. When I found out the youngest was getting married, I was thrilled at the thought of an excuse to head up to Portland, renew some old bonds, and reminisce of the good ‘ol days.

I sent this cousin an email, full of congratulations. I asked her when the big day was. She gave a very curt reply, stating that I was not invited…no cousins were invited. They didn’t have enough money to invited everyone related. This was a shock to me. For both my weddings, I made it a priority to think of every single person I was related to, and make sure they were invited. Even though some family members are not “close” relatives, I can’t think of excluding any that were happy to be a part of my celebration. If any family was overlooked, it was a sincere mistake.

Last weekend was the wedding. I got the play by play from my grandma. She said that there were a lot of family member that were not invited. It brought back some of the feelings that I felt growing up…maybe I only get to spend time with these cool people because we have the same bloodline. Am I fun enough, or cool enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or whatever enough to catch their eye to spend time with? I know I’m a pretty likeable person. I typically make friends quickly, even in the most bizarre situations. But for a family member to not think I’m worth spending time with? I have a really, really hard time with it.

So as I’ve been mulling over this situation this week, I’ve been planning this trip to St. George. Friday night was planned to spend with Taylor’s cousin and his wife. I had asked a few weeks ago if it was okay to stay with them, and they said they were happy to have Rosie and I come. A few days ago, I called to confirm that we were fine to stay. She said that a few more family members were coming into town, but there should be plenty of room. So tonight around 10:30, as I’m packing up my trip-things, I get a call from this cousin. She says that they have too many people staying at their house, and they just don’t have room for us. A huge wave of this, “Am I fun enough, or cool enough, or smart enough, etc…” sentiment is rushing through my head. Logically, I understand that the immediate family is more of a priority, and a house can get overcrowded with guests. But this family member is married to Taylor’s cousin…who is part of the family HE grew up thinking, “Am I fun enough, or cool enough, or smart enough…” and “Am I only spending time with them because we have the same bloodline?”

I’m just not coping with these feelings well tonight. I’m feeling lonely, and vulnerable, and disappointed, and stressed. I had been planning to go to Memphis to see Taylor for the holiday weekend, but decided that airline tickets were too expensive. I wanted to go to SLC to see some close friends and my family, but it’s not practical to travel that far in my circumstance. I’ve already gotten the time off work to head to St. George on Friday. But is it worth a $75 hotel room for me to go up early? Do I want to take the pity offer of “You can stay on the floor if you can’t make other arrangements?”

And how do I overcome these self-justified feelings of rejection that may not even be true or valid in the eyes of my extended family? Have I alienated any family members, having them worry if they were “fun enough, or cool enough, or smart enough…” for me to like them?? Is is ridiculous for me to assume that family = friends? It makes me envy the people that ARE friends with their family.

These are the life questions that I fear may keep my brain on overdrive tonight. And I don’t need a sleepless night if I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow….

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