We call ourselves The Orlando Mafia.
And every time we do, one of us invariably rolls rolls our eyes and laughs, “man we are douches.” And then another one of us laughs too and agrees, “I know! I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to hang out with us!” And then we all laugh some more about how absolutely obnoxious and ridiculous the whole thing is, although one of us will no doubt remind the rest of us amidst all the giggling that, obnoxious and ridiculous or not, we are still very much so fucking awesome. And again we will laugh at ourselves and each other.
And still we will insist on referring to ourselves as a Mafia.
And as obnoxious and ridiculous and douchey as it is – it fits. It fits, perhaps, better than any other word we could imagine.
We are family. Not by blood or marriage or legal paperwork, but by some intangible connection that makes no sense on the surface.
It’s hard to say what binds us together. We’re not all mothers or wives or even women. We don’t share a career field or educational background or life ambitions. We are a motley crew of one working mom, one stay at home mom, one single woman, and one newly divorced man. One Pakistani American, one Midwestern girl with small town roots, one California girl at heart, and one… well… where he lives and where he comes from doesn’t mean much to him at all.
We are all bloggers, yes. But even in that we are vastly different. One of us writes to make others laugh, one of us to make people think, and another still simply to be emotional champagne. And one of us – that’d be me – for a reason no one really knows.
On the outside, we share no glaring similarities.
And yet, we make up this patchwork mafia, this family, because we are more than friends. We have made each other laugh and we have made each other cry. We have smiled and told stories and pissed one another off on more than one occasion. We’ve shared secret desires and secret fears, both equally terrifying and revealing.
Like most families, we each play our own role.
She is the big sister you admire and find yourself imitating, because she is just so damn much cooler and more confident than you could ever hope to be. She’s the one most likely to roll her eyes and least likely to get involved in your childish games, and once in a while you forget that she’s just as vulnerable as you. Until the day you accidentally walk into her room without knocking, and just before she tells you to get the hell out of her room, you notice she’s crying because some boy broke her heart. And in that instant you realize that this person you look up to is soft and squishy just like you, and you vow to bust the knee caps of the son of a bitch who hurt her if you ever get the chance.
She is the seemingly omnipotent mother. You swear she has her shit together better than you ever will, and she makes it look effortless. You call her for advice because you’re confident she’ll see answers where you only see chaos, and it’s hard to imagine she understands what it’s like to be lost or out of control. And then one day you’re flipping through her old photos, and you see a younger version of a person who sure as hell looks like her, but can’t possibly be, what with that look of youth and uncertainty you see. She sees your disbelief and smirks the smile of a woman with a history and smugly reminds you, “I wasn’t always someone’s mother, you know.” And you think to yourself, maybe there’s hope for me yet.
He is some strange combination of the providing father, protective big brother, and eager to please little brother. He seldom gives advice, but he usually insists on paying. He listens to you cry, while secretly plotting to fix everything the moment you get off the phone – even if that means putting on his mercenary mask for a while. He insists that you know that he is the strong one – until the day comes when he can’t be, and then he lets down his guard just long enough for those closest to him to rush in and comfort him.
And then there is me. I’m not exactly clear what my role is here, but I know that my place is cemented. It gives me comfort and strength and courage, because I know that no matter how far I wander, I’ll always have a place to come back to. It’s hard to remember a time in my life when I wasn’t a part of them and they weren’t a part of me.
And now, one of us has gone.
Hilly, our California girl at heart, is headed back to her heart and her home. And the term Orlando Mafia seems even more ridiculous than it did just three short days ago.
We’ve joked about her going off to Vegas California and setting up a contingency there, but that we will inevitably be forced to shoot her in the eye a la Moe Greene. We may have threatened to cut her out of The Family completely, insisting that she was betraying us all by leaving and therefore needed to be shunned.
But we’re completely full of shit.
There is no us without her. No matter where she lays her head at night, she will always have a place in our lives, because we are family.
We are more than family.
We’re the Orlando Fucking Mafia, bitches.