my super power

Last year, Mason invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his relatives in Fresno. It was the first Thanksgiving since both of our dads had died, earlier that year. Since he had family to return to (the same aunt's house he's been eating turkey at ever since he can remember) and I didn't, I was adopted for the day by his. They were lovely and welcoming to me, and I thanked them by managing not to break down in tears until I got in the car to go home.

Ah, the posthumous romanticizing of the family experience.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of that day was my friendship with one of Mason's uncles, this handsome guy. That's Uncle Bill. And right about now, he's probably blushing, because for whatever crazy reason, Uncle Bill took a shine to me, and became a reader of this dumb little blog, an erstwhile pen pal, and a capital f Friend. He doesn't miss a post, and often emails me thoughtful, funny responses to what I've written, one of which I printed out and tucked into the corner of my mirror, so I can read it every day.

I don't want to casually or cheaply drop a phrase like "father figure", because wow is that problematical and pat and overly facile and all kinds of things I don't want to characterize my relationship with UB as. That said, it's been really nice to have someone older and wiser checking in on me, as I stumble through life, because for as much as I love and miss my dad, there were some serious deficits in our relationship, which I'll probably feel keenly until the day I die. For one thing, I can tell you he certainly wasn't reading my blog and chiming in with the occasional bit of guidance. My dad was many wonderful things, but a fan of my writing he was not.

Bill has followed my romantic adventures with interest, amusement, and at times, concern. (No one likes to see their friends get hurt.) When October rolled around and he saw how attached I'd gotten to LeBoyf, he said I should bring him with me back to Fresno this Thanksgiving. This invitation was co-signed and ratified by Mason, so I got to spend yesterday in the company of my three favorite men, among other wonderful people who treated near-stranger me and my complete-stranger +1 like family.

There was champagne, thrust into my hand within a minute of walking in the door, and lots and lots of wine. There were aunts and uncles and cousins and kids and a Pomeranian-Chihauhua mix named Tiny, who let me hold him in my lap long as long as I liked. There was turkey and glazed ham and everything you'd want to go with them, including my second taste of Aunt Janie's Lemon Lush pie.

I didn't sleep much the night before, so I wasn't at my best. I was overtired and overly emotional, and Bill's kindness and warmth - and his stories of working as a young man in downtown LA, a mere block from where I live today - put me over the edge more than once. Thank god for kitchen-adjacent bathrooms, to which a girl can beat a hasty retreat, splash some cold water on her face, pull her shit together, and return to a table full of laughter and love and just feel fucking grateful to be there.

I've said it before but it bears repeating. I suck at so much in life, but apparently my super power is making incredible people care about me, despite my not deserving it half the time. I came out of yesterday determined to do a better job of giving back the consideration I'm shown by those who know the absolute worst things about me, but love me nonetheless.

I guess that's kind of how family works, anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. I hope you guys were lucky enough to spend it with your favorite people, too.