Crazy family belonging, that’s how I would describe that feeling of when you meet people for the first time in your life and then within 24 hours they become your immediate family, as if you had always meant to be stuck together at the hip, as if kissing and hugging these strangers were the most natural thing in the world. This “crazy family belonging”, is a rare and beautiful feeling… and I’ve been lucky enough to feel it a few times in my life.
I remember the first time I had this crazy wild feeling of loving complete strangers, and wanting to cling to them and ask them to validate my every whim. To get crazy mad drunk with these new best friends of mine and sing at the top of our voice, to laugh at silly personal jokes that you repeat over and over again until they become a ritual that only your small esoteric group understands… the first time I was 21 and had just joined Contiki.
I had saved for three years working all my spare time, weekends and holidays, in a retail department store. When I turned 21 I marched into my local student travel agency at my university campus and said “One Trip-Around-The-World ticket thank you and this three week Contiki tour”. I was ecstatic. I had been dreaming of going to Europe my whole life… in fact, when I was 14 I had written a long list of places I wanted to see around the world (a story for another time). I had roped my best friend at the time into the trip with me… 11 countries, 20 days… argh, I was stupidly excited and stupidly scared. We met our Contiki group in London, but it took until the next day, front row seats at a sex show in Amsterdam to meet them, my Contiki family that is. But when I saw them, and I knew it was meant to be.
Leanne and Loz (from Sydney) sat next to us , and right next to them sat Michael and Vince (from Adelaide)… and we instantly became friend during the strip tease when Loz was dragged onto stage to strip the man of his clothes. The girls were 24 and the boys 23… I remember thinking at the time how much older and wiser they all were! But we were all such babies. The six of us became inseparable from that day onwards for the rest of the trip. Before we knew it, we were huddling together in the snow in Berlin like penguins, laughing at crass jokes about Michael’s embarrassing speech where he had a massive rice stuck to his face, shotting absinth on the way up Mt Pilatus and calling ourselves “Legends”. It was the most blissful, beautiful crazy family belonging.
The second time this happened, it was my 23rd birthday and I was sat in a large room conference room full of peers my age. This conference room was in a golf resort in the middle of country Berkshire, United Kingdom. It was my company’s graduate induction, and 80 of us had been flown in from 20 odd countries around the world. I was sad, I remember, being separated from my boyfriend at the time and it being my birthday… and no one had remembered. But by the end of that week, about 20 of us had broken off from the main group, and decided that we were one giant family. A family of intoxicated drunken love, where we laughed and bullied each other and pointed out who had vomited the night before. We teased those couldn’t make the class the next day because they were too hung over, or tried to make a pass at our graduate manager unsuccessfully. We coxed each other into telling us who we would sleep with, “who is in your top 5?” we sat around asking one night, to both boast our egos and unceremonious hit on each other.
I lied through my teeth because I was embarrassed by who I was attracted to. It was a crazy family belonging for two blissful week. We parted, and returned home to our respective countries, full of promises that we were see each other again and party like it was 2009. Just over a year later, my bestest of cliques from our graduate year, at the time, came to Australia and the party continued and raged. We went to dirty hostels and watermelon festivals and slyly flirted with each other under the table. I left at the peak of all the fun and games, and with a heavy heart at the time left for Trinidad to continue more adventures with new and wonderful friends.
Last week – it happened again. I feel so extraordinarily grateful when I have these moments in my life, to meet such awesome people, people who come from across the world, from different cultures and different backgrounds, but all on the same wavelength, on the same page… and all ready to have the time of their lives.
Last week was The Yacht Week – Thailand. A trip I had spontaneously decided to take solo. I had just completed The Yacht Week – Croatia this past August with some of my best friends from around the world, and it was such fun that I was yearning to go again. Not able to find any friends who were keen on this trip (I guess recovery takes a long time afterwards), I went alone, and was lucky to get the last spot on a large catamaran. The crew consisted of two New Yorker lads, two gorgeous Brazilian beauties, a Finnish princess, a German gentle giant, a party loving Swiss guy, the coolest too-cool-for-school South African skipper and a sweet Aussie teacher from Townsville – and then there was me.
The “crazy family belonging”, it didn’t take long. After day one I was in love, with these completely wonderful stranger. There were hugs and kisses all around, unfettered, gregarious flirtation and flattery. There were moments of pure joy, to be in such a beautiful place (sailing around the islands of Phuket), with such amazing people – moments when you realised in a flash that these people, at this place, at this time, would never happen again. And when it was all over, when I felt ripped from them, that family who I spent a wild 24/7 week with, who I barely knew but unconditionally loved… I reflected back and thought about all the crazy family belonging I had ever been apart of.
These moments, are fleeting – those unsustainable crazy family belonging.They are full of drunken love, and mild regrets. Of hangovers, unbrushed teeth and bloodshot eyes. Of screaming delight, chanting and singing together in a chorus. Holding hands, giving hugs, passing out and petting each others heads.
Thanks to all those strangers, who now are friends, for these amazing incredible memories. They are forever, and they are priceless. I can only hope to have some more crazy family belonging again one day soon x