While in Ohio, a gentleman asked me about my life abroad and why I choose to be far from family. There was a subtext that my decision is odd and not a good one (for me or my hypothetical future babies). From our conversation, I gathered that his immediate and extended family lives primarily in one city. For a moment, I was bummed that the people I consider family span the globe and don’t live on a compound together.  It’d be a pretty awesome compound, not creepy or weird at all. Then I got a bit defensive: why was he judging the way I live? Why was he making assumptions about my family and relationship? But erring on the side of being pleasant, I replied that physical proximity doesn’t necessarily equate with emotional closeness in my book. And that family isn’t just the people we’re connected to through marriage or blood, but there’s the family we choose to love, those we choose to have in our lives for the long haul.

  • While in Ohio, we got to hang out with the Woods — Erica, Will, James, and Anna — for a short but fun afternoon of awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and a tour of the Newport Aquarium.
  • On our baby-tour of North Carolina, we spent an evening in Charlotte with Amber, Shawn, red romper momma Sharon, baby Myla and some tasty barbeque.
  • In Raleigh, we hung out with the expanding Sagan family, Jill, Marie and Maggie, and the Gamble clan. Burritos are always the basis for a good time.
  • We couldn’t leave Raleigh without seeing Mike and catching up on life and politics over a pizza.
  • Although we didn’t see them this go-round, we know there’s a beer or three in our future with Annie and Micah and a chat about life, family, travel, art, and adventure.
  • We will make it to a Canavera Christmas again and exchange silly gifts with the neighborhood that’s adopted us. (And maybe a Spoleto festival)
  • While emails and skype chats might be few and far between sometimes, we know that doors are always open among Peace Corps friends like Courtney, Ted, Melody, Alex, Jenny, Gretel, Gretchen, Amanda and Mary Ann.
  • And I haven’t even mentioned our Romanian family (Botezes, Carmen, Irina & Ramo, Anda & Costel, Levi, Reema & Mari-An) and the Ukrainian family we’re forming.

These folks are people we don’t talk to daily or weekly or even monthly; we may not see them even once a year. We don’t know the minutia of their daily lives or live next door to any of them.  But they are family. Near or far, they are the family we choose to love and include in our lives.

If you’re on this list… sorry, but you’re stuck with us!