Friday, January 5, 2018

Unbridled Gifthorses

Happy New Year, Indeed!

I got an early "present" in the form of a last-minute writing assignment to interview an up-and-coming travel guru, originally from Brooklyn, now an expat in London. Talking with Travis gave me some really encouraging insights on taking leaps of faith that have helped confirm my ambitions for this new year. A bonus on this perspective was in the discovery through our chat that we actually share an ancestral homeland! "Guyanese truly does go everywhere, man!"

2018 has already blustered in (snow punning, I know) with all kinds of interesting developments. The most enjoyable so far has been the growing tradition of meeting up with some of my New York City cousins and hanging out and catching up. Chances are, I might have just seen them at the annual Christmas potluck, but every now and then a surprise guest makes an appearance.

This Christmas, I got to dig deep into some old family photos documenting our shared heritage, and even make plans to do more genealogical spelunking that would culminate in some sort of published work. It's all very exciting!

I feel most validated, however, by the sheer joy and unexpected benefits of reconnecting with old friends and relatives that were growing far too distant. And I will take this moment to include all of the family friends- Aunt This and Uncle That- that are, by sheer cultural privilege, also part of my family.

I should back up a bit here. I have a huge extended family. HUGE. My mother is one of nine, my father one of five, his mother the eldest of ten, and her mother the middle of five or six herself! All of the previous generation had at least two kids a-piece, and on, and on! We've got such overlap between the generations, I'm envisioning a family chart that will rival the Targaryens, without the icky incest. I have made jokes about not even attempting to marry anyone Guyanese or Bajan, specifically to avoid unpleasant (READ: unexpected) familial connections. I'm only half-joking.

The point is that there are a lot of us that I call Family, and we honor our second- and third cousins, and are (in)conveniently spread out over three, maybe four continents! So when even a few of us gather together to celebrate, mourn, and, invariably, eat, it is a big deal, especially as many in my generation keeps getting married and having children, and getting quite caught up with life in their respective borders. Iv'e often felt like a bit of an anomaly among my cousins, being in my mid-thirties and not following suit, but as I learn to embrace the unique path that I am on, I relish what I can also add to the legacy of our ancestors' wildest dreams.

Some of us cousins made plans to get together and make the first day of the new year a collaborative process of vision-boarding, kids in tow, carving a small rectangular piece of dreams and affirmations into our hectic and varied lives. It was an oddly calming exercise that really got our creative juices going, amidst the children orbiting on their bikes and scooters.  I learned that we all have similar desires to travel, a genetic trait that has not thinned out, apparently. We also all had a moment of clarity for how we can still be in each other's lives, and be of value and encouragement.

As the time came to a dramatic close (you can't really take your eyes of of that many assortment of tykes for too long!), we collected our cutouts to finish later and briefly explained our mural masterpieces to each other. One cousin expressed her interest in getting into a healthier diet regimen and incorporating more outdoors activity to add variety and fun to her transition. Another cousin vowed to use her post-graduation off-time before starting a new job to volunteer more and learn a new language. Another cousin who has the cutest team of boys very close in age said that this is the year she books an all-inclusive family vacation, her first like this since she became a domestic engineer. There were suggestions for websites to visit with travel information, and promises of accountability support for individual endeavors. Here again, we young women pledged to maintain friendships borne from childhood.

This was the first time in my memory that we had a goal-oriented gathering, and it affirms the promise that as we continue to grow and grow older, we still have it within us the codes to family success, family wealth and healthier relationships with whomever crosses our paths.

By the end of this week, a couple birthdays would have come and gone, job interviews attended, a flight around the world taken. I, myself made an investment into my own skill development with some online courses, while I continue with renewed vigor chasing down writing contracts, and practicing what makes me perfect: my words, my #kitchentherapy, my beadcraft, and my penchant for diving down rabbit-holes in research. fine activities for a winter's week.

No comments:

Post a Comment