I was a Boy Scout. More specifically, I was a Venturer. The teenage branch of Baden-Powell’s erstwhile racist mini-empire. And through the scouts, I met these people, who have become like cousins, like family, like home.
These people I have known since I was a teenager. Amy and Lisa were my sometime confidantes, older than me by a grade, and so more often worshipped than whispered to. But now Lisa is a headhunter and Amy’s a rocket scientist. Me, in my t-shirt and jeans? I’m younger again. I only teach kids to read.
Amy was my role model. Very definitely the oldest sister, by decision, if not chronology. She was cool and reasoned. My mother had not met her, that April I was fifteen. We were on our way to a work camp, getting sites ready for scouts to camp in the next weekend. We drove to Amy’s house, me talking in a fever of excitement. When Amy got in the car, my voice pitch lowered by an octave. I relaxed. My mother said that was when she decided to love Amy.
Lisa lived downtown, the very height of cool. Another older sister, she taught me how to cook for myself, and that sticking up for your friends was more important than posturing. She talks constantly at lunch, chopsticks stabbing for the best bits. Nothing has changed.
Luca sits across from me. He’s always been a brother. He’s short and Italian and loving. When we were teeangers, I used to choose his clothes for him, but since he’d only shop at Royal Robbins, I wasn’t doing the fashion world any kind of favour. He’s poised to take over my dad’s old job at UBC. But by being short and Italian and loving, is doing it in a much more gentle way than my father ever did.
Ben amd I are like the siblings closest in age. We squabble, and then unite in a seamless front against the olders. Ben’s easy grin and wide shoulders hide the lanky dork who knew 7 ways to tie a square knot. He has become the man I thought he could be, and my sisterly pride knows no bounds.
Family doesn’t just happen in the circumstance of blood ties. Family happens while you’re just busy living your life.