Webster defines family as:
1: Persons of common ancestry 2: Group living together 3: parents and children 4: group of related individuals
At the age of seven, I defined family as:
1:The Walton’s 2: The Brady Bunch 3: The Jefferson’s 4: Good Times
However, my family did not look or act like TV families. We did not grow up on a mountainous range but on a concrete, brick and brownstone block in Park Slope, Brooklyn before it was super chic to live here. Had no idea the suburbs existed with family rooms and dens and a “deluxe apartment in the sky” that came with a Doorman did not thrive in the “ghetto”. Eventually, I came to understand the difference between “the ghetto” and “the projects”. None. Like peanut butter cups with chocolate or M&M’s with the candy coating- one does not exist without the other.
Family defined by me as an adult is a group of fragmented, mentally ill, alcoholics (some) and sexually frustrated (most) peoples strewn together not by choice but as Webster further defines- forced to co-exist with some civility and respect. Describes my family nicely although respect is optional and civility must be enforced at times. I will include the word ‘dysfunctional’ which, translates to, “Severely messed up”and/or “Non-repairable”. Mí familía would not rate on the top ten lists, composed by a good psychologist, as the family most damaged and/or fragmented. We are the product of our roots, which started as seedlings and shaped by environments and genetic components. What we longed to become, we did not.
My family serves as a marker, a validation of non-existence within the group, for my position as the youngest placed me in the “seen and not heard” category. Number four is ‘the loneliest number’.