I'm so excited. My mom and my sister are returning from Greece next Saturday, which will be perfect timing for Independence Day celebration. It works out nicely because I'll have an extended weekend. They have been gone since Thanksgiving. Some entries in my blog make explicit mention of what I've been going through. Thankfully, it's not been all that tough since I'm way busy enough with school and clients and waiting tables and such, but the closer I get to that fateful next Saturday (the 2nd), the more emotional I get. I had a great Christmas in Oklahoma celebrating with my Uncle Steve and Aunt Roxanne and my sisters. (Of course, these aren't family through blood. Steve is my mom's first husband and his whole family, but they've been nothing but good to me as long as I can remember.) But it was amiss. I had never, ever spent holiday away from my family. And speaking of which -- family -- I've arrived at two conclusions. My family is incredibly small and scattered. My great grandparents had all the fuckin' children and since then, nobody wants to have more than a kid or two, and many on my mom's side have already been married and divorced with no children on record. Don't know squat about Dad's side and don't care to -- divorce happened when I was six. So, whether I'm talking blood relation or fictive kin, I really, really truly adore where I come from and I can't imagine not giving my folks a little closer with this hiatus considered. And this is incredible for me to admit, but when I checked FedEx to see if the airline tickets made it to my mom's hotel in decent order, when I got the confirmation, I got really teary-eyed. I didn't break down, but I was right there and I haven't been emotionally touched like that in a long time. But -- and here's the second conclusion -- as much as I love my family, there's a whole lot of strife in my mother's side, so much so that I battle these feelings of longing and shame for them. Trust me, when I say I wanted to really belong to this Greek group of kin, I almost did the unthinkable -- take the family last name for my own. That's Dee Hill Koutsoukos. And I still long for that sense of connection, but it pains me to know that my mom felt so unwelcomed and hurt staying there for the past few months. I don't know details, and I'll learn 'em, but it's enough to make me consider keeping my bastardly dad's name. Just Hill. Anyway, wanted to get this out. I'm way too excited. I can't wait.