A Kind of Alive

I think one of the surprisingly wonderful things about family is closeness - a kind of closeness that you can only achieve after years and years of being together. I’ve written about it before when winning small high school writing contests and acing english papers, but I think I have only fully appreciated this closeness recently.
Mostly this is a result of seeing my family, my childhood, my parents and my life in a new light. For the first time I see Nat Hellstrom and Judy Hellstrom, not my parents. I see Leighanna Hellstrom and Elias Hellstrom, not my siblings. I see my family, close and extended, near and far, not as ideas but as people. Saying that, I have found it much harder to love a person than to love an idea.
When I was a child my parents and my friends’ parents would fix us meals. We would get breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, dessert, snacks and all kinds of things in between. We would eat watermelons by the pool, pizza on the porch, grilled cheese inside homemade sheet/blanket tents, peanut butter and jelly after playing football in the yard and then some lemonade after I would mow it. I would get food, I would love the food and I would pretty much leave it at that. I used to tell Omega (my best friend Jessica’s mom) thank you for the little pizza she would make for us, but I didn’t think a whole lot about how Omega was feeling that day. I used to get excited and hug my parents when they would bring home Dominoes Pizza for dinner, but I didn’t think about how their relationship was going, how work was treating them, how that jury duty went, how it felt to be late on the electric bill or how that twenty-item household chore list was coming along. I wasn’t expected to think about it and I certainly didn’t offer up the consideration either.
The fact is, however, we college students are all getting older. We are paying for watermelons. We are making grilled cheeses. We make pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lemonades for ourselves. Not only that, we are proud of it and we often make quite a spectacle of ourselves. We eat homecooked meals and we think, holy snap…thank you. We do just what our parents always said we would do. We are becoming older, we are becoming adults and we are becoming appreciative. It’s rough and it’s tough, but it’s only fair. It’s real and it’s who we really are. When I say “I love you” to my mom and dad, when I hug my brother and sister and when I bring home a 2% milk carton it’s a lot different now. It means something different. It’s more closeness than I have ever felt before and it’s makes me feel much more alive than I ever did. It’s not like a “yippee!” kind of alive. It’s almost more like a…“thank you” kind of alive.