There’s that old saying about which is thicker, and therefore deserves the ultimate loyalty. (One is decidedly more drinkable; please don’t test it.)
But I learned from a Cracked article [where I learn most of my baller/ meaningless trivia] that the proverb’s been twisted. It doesn’t refer to your biological family like we think these days– it means the one you picked. Blood, as in blood-oaths and war; water, as in of-the-womb relatives. In short: your buddies are better than genetics, because you actually CHOSE them. You love family because you have to; you love your friends because you want to. And life is a fucking battle, so choose wisely who has your back.
I’ve always said something similar: one of the greatest things about growing up is this ability to choose your family. Because that’s who your friends become. The further away from the biological you move and grow, the more you turn to the surrogates in your life. The girlfriends who build a new sisterhood. The guy who steps in as an older brother, to roughhouse and/or protect you. A boss with those mystical parental powers of approval and judgement. On a very basic level, the majority of us will always have some makeshift family dynamic in our day-to-day lives. Whether you find them in the workplace or social circles (or both), the family dynamic is inescapable and omnipotent. It shapes your life.
As kids, friendships are forged mostly by default. You’re the same age, in the same class, seated next to each other alphabetically, or managed to have the same Ninja Turtles backpack. In high school, you shared the same athletic/academic/artistic talent (or mutual lackthereof), and were in the same clique. And college isn’t much different. Majors stick together, and dorm-mates bond. But out here in the real world? It can be harder as adults to find your family.
Freshly pushed from the collegiate nest, we wander like hatchlings [read: idiots] around our new adult lives for a while crying “Are you my mother?” Think about it. For those of you who moved to DC without a support system– and knowing this city, it’s a large majority of us– there was a deep part of you starving for that close-as-blood connection. Some of us turn to classes or clubs to find it within similar interests (fuck bocce ball; but hashing is a “Jules Approved Activity”). Others simply go to a bar to meet people (arguably a similar interest, to those of us alcoholically-minded). Nearly everyone throws themselves into work until life figures itself out.
I don’t know what it’s like to move here without a single friend. Two of my best, Otoño and Sally, were already here. And that was hard enough! But between work and play, I found a few family trees to graft on to. My Restaurant the first year adopted me into a polyglot family spanning over a dozen global cultures. I had a fierce bunch of aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters, all making sure I ate enough food and had the hugs needed to keep spirits up. Team United Nations pulled me into the wild world of clubs, DJs, and partying the sun to rise. Josef and the Roomies fill in as older brothers keeping me in touch with the art world.
And now, My Bar serves as home base. With a majority of the staff fighting in the DC job market, yet taking pride in Industry life, we understand each other on a very real level. In addition to our “Sunday is Coming” tradition, which kicked off to an awesome start on Easter, we typically meet on Mondays. The Pinch, our friendly neighborhood dive, has made Mondays their Industry Night– meaning certain astronomical specials for those in the know. The rest of the week, we knock off work and set up camp at the corner table at Wonderland Ballroom, where similar benefits are ensured. We take full advantage of industry connections, and have established strong familial ties between our bars.
With that said, sometimes there’s nothing like your literal family. Junior visited with Abigail only once since Inauguration, and it almost felt like a tease because I had to work all weekend. Last week was Fabala’s spring break from high school, and it nearly broke my heart that a visit fell through. On top of it all, my dad was in the hospital for a fair bit (he’ll be alright, but a reoccurring worry). I had to work so much that I still haven’t gotten to pop home and see him. I’m currently the only veteran server at My Bar, and responsibility lays heavy.
The one thing keeping me going: I did get to visit Big Bro up in Philly a month ago; it was ridiculously awesome. He toured me around his favorite bars and restaurants, hopping from one bangin brewery to another craft cocktail bar. He works at one of Starr’s places, the Dandelion, where even their TOAST will make your mouth orgasm. I now have both a new favorite beer and drink– Triumph Brewery‘s Scotch Ale and Continental Midtown‘s ‘Blood and Sand’, a blood orange and scotch drink. I love DC and everything in it, but Philly’s mind-blowing food and drink culture reminded me why I almost moved there or NYC. [No worries, I don’t regret my decision.] One of the greatest things I left my visit with, though, was a strong calm with being an industry worker. Philly is such a great blue-collar-creative environment, and seeing everyone’s pride in their restaurants gave me a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in DC. So thanks to Big Bro, his lady, and all those goobers for the heaps of Brotherly Love.
Which I soon have the chance to return. Junior and Abigail are talking about visiting next weekend. The week after is Big Bro’s and my group of friends’ huge family reunion concert in Philly with our boys, The Heavy Pets (definitely check them out). A month later, the Phillies come down to play the Nats, which ensures a whole bundle of crazy along with it. Then Jules Junior, my pride and joy, graduates from university and officially begins the permanent move back to Our Nation’s Capital! In between all the Clan Jules activities, you can be sure there will be a pile of trouble with my District Family. Because life is best when you have a bunch of love from all corners. Stay tuned.
And because I can’t let the opportunity go to introduce you, this is from last year’s show:
One day, I received a text from my sister saying, “My friend’s pet rabbit ran away!!!”
Naturally, I empathetically responded, “Oh no! They need help looking for it?”
“Nope. Now it’s just some bunny that I used to know.”
So in case you were wondering, these are the types of shenanigans White House Interns get up to during the day– texting siblings ridiculous jokes and emailing each other songs on their closed network. Yes, folks. Now that she’s finished her program, I can out Jules Junior and her bestie Abigail as having been overworked and unpaid grunts down at the President’s house. [They of course loved it and can’t wait to come back.]
Between starting at a new restaurant [anyone like low country BBQ?], knuckling down with the real-job search, miraculously scraping together rent, and sending my sister back to the motherland after the end of her Capital Tour…. it’s been a long two months. I tried writing several times, honest! But, I apologize; either I passed out from sheer exhaustion or simply haven’t had it in me to update. Much has changed, so it’s been a contemplative time.
August is a great time of Exodus in DC. Mini-Me and her fellow W.H.interns returned to their universities, more clueless munchkins replace them, and Congress reconvened [after each side finished their respective Convention circuses]. My teacher-friends are now cracking the whip on a new batch of deviants, and those still learning things went back to classes.
On a more personal note, one of my best friends here left to join her husband in a far-away South American land. Otoño has been my rock since moving to DC, helping me to carve out a solid home out of this transient place, and always my natural go-to comfort for professional and romantic woes. I have been utterly desolate without her– consolation via brownies would be welcome.
September was about getting my shit together. I’ve no problem admitting I was hurting a bit. My sister’s gone, my best friend moved, and I was coming off a romantic roller-coaster that jerked me around a bit too much [hereafter known as the Mistake]. It was a hectic time, and I threw myself into overtime at the restaurant. [Added bonus: more-than-rent income!] In my book, the best way to re-motivate socially is to focus in on awesome friends and fun activities. So I explored several major DC-centric events [details to come].
But my greatest revelation: I am no longer interested in transition. No more of this “just for now” nonsense. Gone are the times of only seeing friends in some speaker-blasting club or over-crowded bar. I’m tired of never seeing guys for more than a month. Window shoppers can keep it moving, and the pro temps can apply for interim work elsewhere. I am looking to take root. Find a job to settle into and individuals to share in the experience.
So, with that in mind, I would like to say goodbye to all those bunnies that I used to know… and hello to the future that matters. It’s time to arrive.