family.

There's the four of us, my sister, my dad, my mom and myself all talking, engaging each other about our lives, our feelings, all of us around the kitchen table honestly communicating our fears and desires and listening intently to one another, exchanging smiles and hugs.

On the opposite site of the chasm, our non-ideal selves stand somewhat apart, my sister telling some jokes or some story about coffee, my mom replying and my dad adding a punchline where he can; I'm aloof. There's a bridge to get across to the other side where the happier, unashamed, more-loving versions of ourselves are. My sister and I take an aside and talk about how we wish were better, and wish our parents were better, and reflect on our childhoods and wonder if we were happy or sad kids. Talking about how life could be better feels awkward; it's this sense of ingratitude for where we are and then we have to dive into our feelings of betrayal, anger and scars from wounds made years ago; those are the first steps across the bridge, I imagine, and I feel overwhelmed. Talking to our parents about it, we reason, would be like flipping a coin, hoping it does us all good and not a whole lot of bad.

Then, after all the dirty laundry and skeletons and other metaphors were laid on the table, the next step would be the catharsis of saying sorry and being forgiven and forgiving, assuming that doing that would bring a fresh breath of relief and not defensiveness or unearth bitterness. If we could talk as a group, and not as asides to one another about all the things we think but don't say, then we could start to work together as a group, and move out of stasis. Understanding our faults and the way we hurt and irritate one another would be the next step.

Staring our feelings in the face and working to be more in sync with them would get us most of the way across the bridge. The final steps would be taken during the time it takes to work on ourselves in calm introspection and learn to function as a tribe instead of disparate pieces. Those steps would get us across the chasm and help us grow together instead of growing apart.