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Dear Thursday: The Specialest Thursday of the Year

To tell you the truth, I’ve never been much of a Thanksgiving fan. When you grow up as I did, surrounded by the largest of the large extended family, it’s hard to understand a holiday set aside just for spending time with your family. I was ALWAYS with my family.

My mother was the oldest of 9 brothers and sisters, all of which spawned. And her plethora of cousins all seemed to be from similar backgrounds. Weekend activities were done with aunt and cousins. Weekdays I went to the same private school that many of my cousins also attended. In high school I worked in a music store that shared a large sprawling parking lot with the grocery store that one of my (many) aunts worked at. I would often visit her on breaks.

The only two places that I’ve ever lived that didn’t have one of my two family members nearby were China and Japan.

An extremely small contingent — only about 10 or 12 of my family members made it out to CH’s and my wedding. And two of them were not invited. You see, they also travel together and two of my great-aunts wanted to come out to California, too, so that’s what they did.

And though I sat them at separate tables as punishment, they completely ignored the place cards and squeezed together at a table with the family members who had properly RSVPed, even though it was only meant for 8. They danced when they weren’t supposed to dance. And every time they descended on our house during the long wedding weekend, it suddenly felt like it had been hit by this crazy, pushy, and loud tornado. I don’t think it was because our house was too small to contain them. I think that the Taj Mahal would feel crowded and loud were my family to descend.

Here’s the thing about writers. We enjoy good company, but we are in some way loners to the core. After all you don’t write with other people, even when you’re co-writing something, you tend to split the work into parts, which you work on alone before coming back together. We need our alone time. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. And I’m a writer born.

I don’t think I even made it to 12, before I was dying to get out of St. Louis. I count leaving by myself on a plane to a college where no one knew me and that none of my cousins would be attending to be one of the best days of my life.

And I feel somewhat callous as I write this, but I don’t miss my family at all on Thanksgiving.

That is, I don’t miss them right now. There was that one Thanksgiving:

I had just gone through a horrible, break-up with a guy I had been living with for 7 months — before this I had real trouble committing to anyone for over 3 months, so that seemed like an eternity, and I found it somewhat devastating.

I was broke. I was depressed. I was sad. I had a shitty part-time job as an ESL teacher in Koreatown, which I was only weeks away from losing, due to what turned out to be rather poor ESL teaching skills on my part, despite my stint in Japan. And I was living in a sublet, which I would only have until March 1st.

Even if I had wanted to go home for Thanksgiving, which I had never wanted to do before, I couldn’t afford the plane ticket.

Luckily, I was also a Derby Doll, and Emma Geddon decided to throw a Thankgiving party along with her husband, Bitchy Kitten.

It was a fun enough night filled with booze and other substances, and at one point, a bunch of us ended up on Emma’s and Bitchy’s large bed in a pile of curled up bodies that now reminds of the Shiba Inu puppy cam when I look back on it. It was very comforting.

I was the only black person there.

I didn’t want to go back to my sublet.

I wanted to go home to my family for the first time in my life.

Even more than that, I wanted a place that felt like home. I was sick of feeling awkward all the time and not ever really fitting in unless a lot of alcohol was involved.

I didn’t ever want to leave the puppy pile.

But I also recognized that the hour window between when the alcohol wore off enough for me to drive and when I passed out for the night would dry up if I didn’t leave soon. I pulled myself out of the pile of bodies, and like a good Midwestern girl, I found the hosts, Emma Geddon and Bitchy Kitten, and thanked them for having me.

Then I left.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Bitchy’s real name was James Jones and one of his best friends from college was this lighting designer whose initials were CH. And I would be spending my next Thanksgiving with him. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Anyway this is all to say have a great Thanksgiving. And you know what, I think I’ll call my family in St. Louis today. It’ll be good to talk them — but just for a little while.


Photo Credit: WoofBC/