All Together Now: On Friends, Family & Building My Tribe

Being that it’s my first holiday season away from New York in seven years, I’ve been thinking a lot about my people and all the folks in my life. While there are many things I miss about being so close to my friends and family in New York, I have found a home here in Belize and nurturing that is a focus for me. Still, it was wonderful to end Christmas day with a video call with my family, and to have various text and email exchanges with friends around the world wishing each other well. Staying connected has become even more important.

Having lived in my hometown for most of my life, I was used to being able to see my folks pretty regularly. Most of my family lives in New York, at times within walking distance. I’m fortunate to have friends who I’ve known since childhood, who are still in my life and who I feel intimate with when we see each other, no matter how much time has passed. After college, we all began to drift and entered our adult lives, which sometimes meant moving to other cities and countries. And with everyone spreading out over the years due to marriage, kids, careers and other adventures, it’s become increasingly necessary to make the effort to sustain relationships.

It hasn’t always been easy to maintain these relationships with love and attention. I’ve experienced the pain and loss of friendships ending because the distance was too great. I’ve also experienced the beauty of new people coming into my life through work, graduate school, and creating together. At times, I checked out on folks because of my own shit (in New York we call it “busy”). But I have also been honest and vulnerable with people, accepting that they came into my life for a reason, and moving beyond myself to rise to the occasion of being present. By the time I left New York to come to Belize, I had an amazing global tribe of people who mean the world to me. Being here now, I am reflecting on the value of those relationships as I am developing new ones. I’ve met some wonderful people here who I believe I will know for a long time.

I’ve always needed to feel connected to people, to have folks in my life who I can be myself with, who know and understand me, and who allow me to be that for them. I believe that is why I do the work that I do as a therapist and artist, which is all about relationships and building community. And I recognize that it means committing myself to staying connected, to reaching out, and to holding space in my life for folks, figuratively and literally (Our couch is free, y’all! Come on down!). As this year comes to a close and I reflect on all those whose love and support brought me here to Belize, to living my dream, I am incredibly grateful for my beautiful tribe.

Thank you. I love you.

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