I suppose saying “I believe in my family” wouldn’t quite fit the situation because, in reality, we are not really related. But we are known to each other as our extended family and act like one. To an outsider, we look, act, and speak as a family, and no one would ever know we weren’t.
When I talk about my extended family, I’m talking about my family’s friends. My dad met three of his friends in law school and ever since, they go bike riding, or skiing, or some other outing every weekend and it somehow always ends up in our house. As a group, we are 19, and a loud 19 at that, especially indoors. Luckily, most of our adventures take place outside, 14 miles paddled away from civilization, next to waterfalls, or islands, or mountains, and with a caravan of 12 canoes and kayaks, how this feat is accomplished is pretty amazing. Not to mention excruciatingly difficult because somehow I always end up with the cooler of beer and ice. But there’s no way of knowing how close you become to someone after spending 6 days in literally the middle of no where in dangerous situations until you’ve experienced it.
Like they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and these people have taught me everything I know. Last summer, we traveled up the Oswagatchie River and pitched camp next to a waterfall. Within minutes, Emily had stripped down and dove into the water. I just stood there laughing, screaming “What are you doing?!” and she stood up and said “There’s no shame when you’re out here. And if there isn’t out here why should there be anywhere else. We are all people.” She didn’t have to care about what other people think, so why should I?
Her father showed me his expansive knowledge of technology and taught me to play the bass. My dad’s best friend is the most inspirational man I’ve ever met. He biked across the country, lived in Alaska for a year, and is now raising 5 kids as a single parent..
Not only the adults have helped shaped my and my brother’s lives. Their children are more than friends. Being right in the middle in the age group, the older ones help me when I’m having a hard time and give advice, and I look up to them with great respect as they are role models for me, and those younger than me are a constant reminder to not grow up too fast, and no matter how old you may be, playing hide and seek in the woods at one in the morning will always be fun. They all contribute a sense of dependability for me and my family, no matter what kind of trouble we’re in, and they know that the dependability will be there in return.
I would trust my extended family to no extent, and there is nothing more important in the world to me than their being in my life. So for those who say “They’re not your extended family, they’re your friends,” you’re wrong. I believe in my family.
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