I’ve never been alone. I am covered in family, an overabundance of sibs and assorted other relatives. I even worked at a profession for thirty-something years that afforded me little privacy.
I know, I am blessed, but . . . I envied the only child, the sequestered nun, Tom Hanks in that movie about the island and the basketball.
For years I drove to and from work in absolute quiet, reveling in the brief solitude of my very own space, no one talking at me, breathing my air, or demanding conversation.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and my friends, but I also love being alone. When someone complains about being lonely, I offer them a few dozen of my relatives. They thank me thinking that I jest, but I am dead serious. My family will cover the whiner with their effusive love and dizzying attention, and before long, the lonely soul will see my side of it (and long for silence and a space of their own).
What defines family? Do you have to live under the same roof? Do you have to be related in some way? Is there a minimum number of people to be considered a family? I am not talking about the cold definition for family that one finds in a dictionary or in the IRS 1040 Instruction booklet, but something that encompasses all the different constellations within our homes.
Why can’t a household with one person and a pet (or pets) be a family? What about two people who live together, related or not, married or not? Why wouldn’t they be a family? We lost the Ozzie and Harriet family a long time ago, and what we have now is just as valid and just as comforting.
Come on, I know you cried when Tom Hanks lost Wilson in Castaway. Tell me that didn’t feel like family.