Collage Family | Teen Ink

Collage Family MAG

December 13, 2018
By afortier BRONZE, New Orleans, Louisiana
afortier BRONZE, New Orleans, Louisiana
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In grammar school, when it came time for events like “Father-Child Weekend” or the “Family Fun Run,” I was filled with dread. I haven’t talked to my biological father since I was 11 and over time, he became a complete stranger to me. The man I consider to be my father lives in a different state. The man I consider to be my grandfather isn’t married to my grandma. My family is unorthodox, and I worried that people would judge me. Particularly in the conservative, Christian community where I grew up, my patchwork family just didn’t fit the cookie cutter model.

My situation took me some time to accept, but after several years, I eventually came to understand that it doesn’t really matter what your family looks like. Just because someone isn’t blood related to me doesn’t mean they can’t love me unconditionally and vice versa. Last Friday night, instead of going out with friends, I went with my grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousins to watch my grandpa’s band play at a restaurant on the lake front. Sitting there, surrounded by the ones I love most, I felt a sense of “family” like I never had before. I danced with my cousins, while my grandfather sang the Oasis song “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” which he dedicated to me. It’s a song I’ve heard a million times before. Even though we had spent countless nights in his living room singing that song together, dancing, eating pretzel sticks, and drinking can after can of Orange Fanta, that song never lost its magic. Hearing my grandfather sing that song that night at the lake front filled me with an overwhelming sense of calm and understanding. I no longer look back in anger at how upset I felt about not having a “normal” family.

After my grandfather’s gig, we all went back to my house, where we had an impromptu dance party. As my grandma got “low, low, low, low” to Flo Rida’s song, “Apple Bottom Jeans,” my eyes filled with tears and my stomach was sore to the core from laughter. That night, I knew I had more fun dancing with my grandma than I do on any night going out with my friends, and that I’d choose that kind of family night over having a “regular” family any day.

Surrounded by family is my happy place. That is where I feel the most joy, love, and contentment. Sure, my family may be a collection of people pasted together, some biologically related, some not, but blood isn’t what defines family. For me the old cliché, “blood is thicker than water” does not ring true. Love is what defines family, and I feel it every day from my own perfectly pieced together collage of a family.

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