Thursday, July 24, 2014


They say it's the glue that holds a family together. It's quite a familiar phrase to me, but what is the glue? What actually cements us together in families?

Surely love. Absolutely. But what sorts of love? What actions? Conversations? Promises? What moments activate the glue?

I appreciate the glue metaphor but I think it's more like maps. Maps connect us. And like pushpin markers on a map, events, experiences, choices, celebrations, traditions, even tragedies identify the routes, the commutes, the detours. Those pushpins mark the construction zones, the places we stopped for snacks, the roadside attractions, the plus ones (2s, 3s, 4s?) who became family, even where the blanket was left behind.

Throughout a lifetime, there are many roads that families travel together. Everyone experiences the journey differently but we were all there. Once. Twice maybe? And perhaps one hundred times in our dreams. And maybe just once more sometime yet to come? We'll see. The togetherness doesn't last though. I'd like to say no one gets left behind but it happens. Sometimes, whether by choice or circumstance, we travel on alone yet we are still connected through our maps even when we cannot or choose not to return. Families might be together for decades but hardly long enough when some elsewhere journeys begin or end, heart-wrenching either way.

Maps are meant to revisit, to reaffirm, and to make the journey easier. We can unfold our memories across the kitchen table and talk and laugh and cry a bit too. Maps can remain hidden in our pockets too, folded and protected, places we no longer choose to visit: treacherous roads or car crashes or dead ends. And maps can be neglected too, even forgotten because life interferes: distractions, work, beauty, change, everything.

But in every family shouldn't there be at least one person waiting for your return? Someone so easy to find because the map is so clear, so familiar, so compelling that when you get close enough you have no choice but to run? I know these maps and I know this waiting.

Who waits for you?


Tim Riley said...

Now you've got me missing people. Great post.

Vinny C said...

For a guy like me who has put so many people in my rear view (both by choice & by circumstance) this makes me wonder if maybe there are some old roads I should walk down again.

I'll stop before my metaphors get any more out of hand.

(PS: Isn't ironic that, just like most of our interpersonal connections, our maps are now on our smartphones too?)

CLR said...

I think I love this post so much I want to print it out so I can read it again, and again, and again.

This traveling wanderer connects to this. Thank you.

The Defiant Marshmallow said...

As CLR wrote, I'll be reading this again. And again. You seemed to have hit a deep nerve here. A good one.

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