Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

Chozen Family Business

"Who the hell voluntarily moves to Canada?"

The Chozen Family is breaking up. We’re filing for divorce, or at least a temporary separation. I guess it’s fitting, when ½ of all marriages in this country end in divorce. What made us so different? It’s not irreconcilable differences; it’s not that the kids have taken up too much time, that we don’t see each other anymore; it’s not that we don’t love each other. It’s just life. Butting its ugly ass head in.

I read about this phenomenon a few years ago in a magazine, something about how this generation, my generation, was marrying later in life, that instead of early family, urban kids were binding together to form units, families of friends. The Chozen Family was something that formed years before that. In college, on a night out, some brilliant night out, one of many, Bob and I were talking about how we were both from split families. He had his mom and brother; I had my father and sister. And he said, “yeah, but we’ve compensated. More than compensated. This is our family, our chosen family.” So I stole it from him, or we all adopted it, however catch phrases get started amongst friends.

When I graduated, I called Mike and Tony. I talked them into coming to New York. That was the beginning. Bob and the Magnificent Geebs moved to Australia, so part of the family was going to be missing, but that happens in real families, right? Kids go to college, then move back. For years. Or something. Matt and Marla were going to be in Boston, Matt at Harvard, Mike and Tony and I would get a place in NYC, those were close enough. My family would be near.

About a year ago, Mike moved down to DC to live with Heather. That was the beginning, I think, but none of us really saw it coming. It was more an anomaly at the time, a freak accident. But in the past few weeks two things happened that showed it for what it really was, the start of us all going our own ways (you can call it another lonely day, another lonely day! Sorry). Matt and Marla bought a house in New Hampshire, which is rumored to be somewhere near Canada, though none of us know. Who the hell voluntarily moves to Canada?

Last night we had a dinner for the Divine Miss Diss. She’s moving to San Francisco. Diss is a girl I went to high school with, someone I always thought highly of, though never really knew, and never thought I would know again after graduation. I wasn’t the kind of kid who kept in touch, or even keeps in touch, with people. For me, my friends are my friends, our relationship is a given. But most of the time I only have the capacity for one big, catch up conversation a week. If Lindsay calls from San Francisco, and we gab it up for an hour, that’s it. I’m spent. My load is shot. I have nothing else to say. It’s like retreading the same old material. Actually, it IS retreading. This is a long way of me saying I’m pretty crap at keeping in touch with people. Mike was the only friend from high school I stayed with after we left, and as I said in a previous post, Tony and I didn’t much like each other in high school. I tried to keep in touch with a few people, but after Jennifer left, after I completely lost it, I found many of the people I thought had been true friends didn't have the grip to hang on for the ride. Bumps in the road, and boom, I turned around and there were far fewer there than I thought. It happens. I don't blame them, not at all, but I've found a nervous breakdown can measure who your friends really are.

Mike and Tony both kept in touch with Diss, and when she moved to New York a few years ago, by default, we ended up forming a friendship. Getting to know her better, to see her come into her own, fall in love with Preston, just manage her life with a simple grace that so few people possess has been one of those gifts I never saw coming. Something I owe my thoughtful friends a tiny debt for. You sort of round a corner, there it is, and you are pleased.

Miss Diss is just one of those remarkable people. She’s probably the single best person I’ve ever met, just open hearted and generous and kind and funny as all hell with the most inappropriate sense of humor you’ve ever heard. She became a part of the Chozen Family.

I am very happy for my friends. In terms of where they all are in their lives, it’s pretty fucking exciting to see. Selfishly, though, I think it sucks. There was a bit of time, right before Bob and Geebs moved back to New York, that I was done with this city. I just wanted out. Anywhere was an option. When Bob called to say he was moving back, we should grab a place together, the idea of New York became exciting again. Mike, Tony, Bob, Le Magnifique Geebs, Diss, Jo, Stu, Matt and Marla then in Philly. Damn. It was going to be all good, as the kids say these days. (Actually, I say that. All the time. I’m one of the kids. Still.)

The idea of me leaving the group didn’t faze me. The Chozen Family concept is one that you take with you when you go places, when you become transitory. And I’m hoping, too, that it stays when people leave. Matt and Marla are friends for life. Dear friends. But, selfishly, I hate the fact that they are heading to New Hampshire. I hate the fact that they are extending beyond the reach of what’s reasonable. No more, “what are you up to this weekend? I was thinking of coming down.” No more, “Yo, we’re hooking it up at the beach, you in?” Now it is plane flights and extended weekends, and most of us in this group, to a man, are crap at extended plans. We actually joke about it, asking what someone is doing next spring, because we should really try and see so-and-so.

Matt and Marla are going to have kids soon. That will change things in ways that none of us can imagine, I was just hoping they would do it somewhere close by. Somewhere I could stop with some frequency to see my nephew or niece. (Sorry, Matt. It might be a niece when it happens. I know that’s hard. Breathe, son. Breathe.) We’re all Chozen Family. These people will be extended aunts and uncles to my children, should I ever have them. Matt is one of my favorite people, one of the all-time greats.

So, it’s all starting. The Family is breaking up, or moving their own ways. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but in the back of my head, in the little room I keep to myself, I had somehow convinced myself that it was possible to keep it together. That we would buck the trend, all end up in the same vicinity. I’ve always been comfortable with the idea that I would be the one to leave, I was fucking sure of it. I always knew I’d end up somewhere else, and one day I will, but I also had this fantasy that I just might talk them into going with me. Of course it was a fantasy. And Diss, Matt, Marla, Mike and Heather, they all know that I’m happy for them. More than happy. I just think it sucks, that’s all.