I have a very small family. Outside of our little unit there are only 18 people in the whole world to whom I am related. (And some of those are through marriage.) Of those 18 I only see 6 on a regular basis and out of that 6 there will only be one who will visit me in Uganda. So my family is a broken, estranged one that spans three continents. It is for that reason that I tend to adopt my friends as my family. Friends you can choose, friends can become sisters and brothers with no politics and friendship is usually a beautiful thing, while family is often not. My children have borrowed cousins in places where no family exists and this includes Uganda where they have become very close to a couple of kids, children of friends, and therefore family friends. I have moved too much and each time I shed a skin and become more vulnerable to the pain of separation. I am not inclined to become close to too many people here, especially knowing how transient the community here tends to be. I am still incredibly attached to my sisterhood back home in Montreal, yet I will not be going there this summer and there is always a danger that the ropes that bind us may fray, over time and distance.
Families in Uganda are so close that they often live together; if one family member has more money and better housing than others he is obliged to invite them to live with him. People are shocked when they hear how far we are from our families, it is a custom that we have, the moving away, that just does not exist here on the same scale. Those that move to Kampala will return to the village often, that is far more important than any vacation that could be taken away from family.
My good friends are my family and I treat them as such. I am a loyal and demanding friend but I work hard to stay in touch and I give as good as I hope to get. There are people in Brisbane, Denver, Trinidad, Montreal, London, Burma, Cyprus, New York, and Paris and I dream of casting a web to draw them all in, to a place where we can remember where we came from.
I miss my friends. All the exceptional people I have shared chunks of life with, that I can’t see now. Yes, facebook helps, and I even got to see some dear friends on a CBS clip on the internet today, but it is not the same as that evening when you are sitting, legs tucked, children in basement, wine in hand, laughing like there is no better place to be.