Family dynamics + distance

Since I got to high school, I was so anxious to leave Upstate New York and be own my own. I wanted to branch out from the small town—from a graduating class of 50, and entire town population of >700—and see what else the world had to offer. I was tired of knowing everyone, and having everyone know my business.

But as I grow and mature I’m finding one of the biggest sacrifices in doing so is being apart from family.

I come from a larger family, falling as the middle child of five. I loved having so many siblings growing up—there always seemed to be someone to hang out with, or someone to side with me during sibling disputes. As we have grown up and moved onto our separate lives and experiences, I find my relationships with my siblings to be shifting as well…

Moving to New York from New Jersey was truly a blessing. While our “Big House” was unfinished and school was about to start, we moved in with my grandparents. I can remember walking home to their house from school with a friend and wondering if they were going to judge me for living with my grandparents—that it would have showed we didn’t have the money to live in our own house…But as I know now, it is relationships with other people that matter far more than any amount of money—and living with my grandparents truly enriched my life.

Since I was a child, I had always shared a room with a sibling or two. My last two years of high school I had finally reached that “status” of having my own room and was thrilled. But then when I moved to Ohio to begin college, I was just as eager to have the dorm experience, living with a roommate once more.

It’s funny how those wants—such as having your own room—can feel like needs when you are young. And that some of my fondest memories I have with my family were when we were in tight, close-knit spaces.

I find myself trying to stay in touch with my parents, my grandparents and my siblings in various ways: Some people I write letters to, some I text or speak regularly with on the phone…

Without the physical closeness to a relative—no matter how strong your connection and bond is—it can be so difficult.

While taking an online class, “My Story on the Web” last fall at college, I had an assignment called Monkey on a Bike. It was to be a simple Soundslides piece, with audio and pictures teling the story of a childhood memory. I’ve copied that assignment from my website, as I find it fitting with this topic of family as I sit here and reflect on the values of being close to those you love.

Childhood Memory

“Having a place to go—is a home. Having someone to love—is a family. Having both—is a blessing.” ~Donna Hedges

Everyone has experiences growing up that have an impact on them. One of the most influential memories of my childhood was living with my grandparents for several years. They’ve really shaped who I am today and I am so thankful for their love and support.

(Technical blemish: The audio is really awful, as I chose to do the assignment on a crunch with simply my laptop, so you’ll have to turn your speakers way up.)

As a side, here’s a little update on one of my Adelante projects:

We updated the Ruth Bloom Self-Sufficiency Fund on the Adelante page, in celebration of her 98th birthday next week. This fund will assist families’ dreams to complete their education or start their micro-businesses. Due to the many limitations we have working with an old, outdated website  where we can’t control or redesign different aspects, here is what we were able to do for now.  (http://www.lapuente.net/family.php) In the coming weeks, my goal is to spend some more time with Ruth at her home and get some interviews done. I want to have a short multimedia piece put together to really honor and represent all that she has done for those around her.

For now, here’s to Ruth’s 98th birthday, to good health, and to the closeness of family. No matter where I end up in life, they certainly will always be close to my heart.

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