I have siblings and extended family, plus in-laws, but in the U.S. my primary family numbers four: Tom, me, and our cats Daisy and Kit. My family identity resides with them. A few times a year, though, I leave my family and come to stay on North Caicos. This island is a personal need that feeds my soul, even as I miss my family when I'm here alone.
But I am not really alone. I have an island family, too.
I realized that yesterday evening as I began to prepare dinner. My young Haitian friend Francesca arrived, schoolwork in hand. She sat at the table doing her math while I chopped and prepped, pausing when the bread machine beeped its ending and I coaxed the bread from its pan to cool. Strange gadgets like the bread machine, I gather, are among the reasons she likes to hang out here.
Later, after Francesca's mother came and herded the child home, Addison arrived. He is a friend and caretaker of the house. As I put out Italian sausage and bread for dinner, it struck me that these semi-domestic scenes are, indeed, family-ness. Here on North, I have this odd, modern family of Francesca, Addison and longtime friend LynnRae. No less a family than one with a husband and two cats.