Encountering new people in my youth, I would go to great lengths to explain my complicated background, where I fit in the order of things. As a military brat, new encounters were plentiful. I had to tell where I'd last been, where I'd been before that, how many siblings I had, where I fit in the order, what were my siblings like, and how much I hated being a part of that family. Later, when I was in my teens and early 20s, I would explain all that and then go into detail about divorce and dysfunction. Where I came from, I thought, explained who I was.
But what once seemed so damn pertinent to who I was now gets winnowed down to a sentence or two, at most. And I'm not the only one who winnows it down. Recently, I've become friendly with a couple of women with sons who Youngest has befriended. Play dates for Youngest still require my presence because, well, that's who he is. In any event, chit-chatting about our lives, I get the nutshell versions of upbringing: a mother who died when my new friend was just two and a father who served in Vietnam. One of five kids, with parents divorcing at 15. One of three girls with medical-profession parents working overseas.
The family of our youth fades into the background as we create families of our own. I don't know if that is true for people who don't have children. I don't know if their original families -- like original sin -- maintain such looming presences as they themselves age.
That leads me to my other thought on the Sunday Scribblings prompt this week: I have created a new family, yet if you ask me to talk about "family," my initial thoughts turn to my parents and siblings. I don't mean if it's in the context of a friend today asking me how the family is. I'm not so socially inept to not realize they're asking about Pete and our friends. What I mean is when I consider my family, my first thought turns to the past. I wonder if that's normal. I'd like to think it is because I'd like to be normal in at least a couple of ways. And with a background like mine, is that too much to ask?