It’s occurred to me that maybe I post a lot of depressing things about my station in life right now. I post a lot about my hopelessly insane parents, my visa waiting time, my $1,000 debt. So I’m thinking, why not write about something pleasant for a change?

Growing up in such a family-centric culture, it’s easy for me to see why people would think that I know what a family is and how I want mine to function or act. But all the positive things I’ve learned from families I’ve either learned second-hand, or in short, one-week periods that are over far too soon. All the negative things I’ve learned from families I’ve experienced first-hand. But it’s one thing to say, “This is how I don’t want my family to be,” and to say, “This is how I want my family to be.” It’s kind of like a math teacher giving you a complicated problem, and then telling you, “The answer is definitely not six.” It’s a start, but it’s not going to get you very far.

I think almost daily about my family in Sweden. They were so wonderfully accepting of a total stranger, I think it’s a bit comical at times. I mean, they come downstairs sleepy and woozy at six in the morning and there’s a complete stranger sitting in their dining room writing in a notebook and staring dramatically out the window. And instead of feeling inconvenienced or assaulted, or even a little bit strange, they ask if this jet-lagged foreigner wants coffee or tea.

That’s a little funny to me.

But I found the answer as to why they would offer me tea/coffee instead of reacting with completely understandable apprehension, while I was cleaning the house. Strange I know, but no stranger than anything else in this circus show. It was because I am a part of their family. They have done what the people around me haven’t been able to do, and what I still am working on doing. They have discovered what a family is, and how you behave towards those in it.

The reason they didn’t freak out when they saw the “foreigner” in their dining room was because there was no foreigner, there was family; the reason it wasn’t unsettling for me to be cleaning the house was because I wasn’t a “guest” I was am a part of the family. I might not carry the name, much less the blood, but that doesn’t matter. And as I write this now, I put another piece of the puzzle in place, I write another line in the confusing math tangle of “what is a family?” A family is a group of people that are bound by love; regardless of their names or their lineage.

And I am proud to love, I am proud to be loved, and I am proud to belong.