After many threats to abandon Missoula and high-tail it back to Seattle, my parents forced me to stay (and a good friend talked me into giving it one more chance), and guess what? Things changed. I spent a lot of time with my family - the extended half. My aunt and uncle became my second parents, my cousin evolved into a brother. I took a lot of pictures, enjoyed coffee and battled some demons. Then, eighteen months into my "Montana adventure," I met the cheese to my bread, the sun to my shine, my future MOH - my best friend, Lacee. She got me to loosen up, be more outgoing and took me on her kind of adventures. She dragged me on back roads going way too fast (I thought I was going to die), took me to the fair (it's not that kind of fair), taught me about 4H (it's more than cows and pigs, it paid for her college education) and 6-man football (yes, it exists). Most importantly, she taught me a lot about family.
I love my family, whether they're related by blood, marriage or friendship. I love them more because I've learned it's not about our differences, our drama or who's doing what - it's about enjoying each other when you're together, especially now that we're so far apart. We live in Arizona. My parents live in Austin, Texas. My brother is in Missoula. Mike's brother lives in Portland, Oregon. Mike's parents are in Butte, Montana but his extended family is in Los Angeles. I have aunts, uncles and cousins scattered across Montana and Washington. Our best friends (who are very much family) literally live in every corner of the nation. So basically, I'm lucky if I see these people once a year. This year it was twice! Thank goodness for celebratory occasions. First, our wedding. Second, my brother's college graduation. Although those who couldn't make it were missed, it was still fun. Here are a few pics of the graduation party last month in Missoula and a little introduction to some more of my "family."
|Left: Grammie+JC. Right: Yours truly with said aunt+uncle, my "second" parents.|
|My dad, JC's buddy Greg, JC and part of Mikey.|