I had an interesting upbringing, to say the least.

Not a bad upbringing. I don’t want you getting the wrong idea.

At face-value, it seems pretty normal. I am the oldest child in a larger-than-average family, meaning I’m super awkward in social settings and my younger siblings are all good looking (but I’ve managed to terrify my family with my independence, so that’s something, at least). My parents are still married and live on a single-income in order to make sure my mother would never have to do anything besides raise her children. Outside of my nuclear family, I have some aunts, a few uncles, too many cousins to count, and we’re all pretty tight-knit.

My upbringing was one that was filled with health, safety, and a lot of love…. a lot of love. I mean, like non-stop (side note: that’s how I live my life these days… endlessly showering people in the love they deserve, as long as they do actually deserve it. And it might not the way normal people express love, but we’ll get there).

Oh, and we’re Italian. Like, only Italian. But not JUST Italian either, we’re Sicilian. That might not seem like a bold statement, but I assure you, it is. I’m convinced we would all collectively have identity crises if we ever did one of those Ancestry.com family trees and found out that our heritage stemmed from anything other than Italy. We’re 2nd generation on one side of the family, 4th generation on the other. Unlike a lot of the whiter parts of Europe, our heritage is our everything. We live for the subculture.

It is one that a few of you out there will identify with – wooden spoon punishments and relentless family gatherings and life revolving around a good meal.

But the rest of you will read this with your mouth hanging open.

All my life, whenever I’ve shared stories of my family, no one believes that my words are true. There’s no way that your cousin got away with saying that at a funeral! There’s no way your sweet, quiet relative got arrested! I can guarantee that even my fellow millennial guineas will cringe at some of these stories. I swear to you, reader, that nothing on this page is a tall tale… they’re true retellings of the shit that went down in my childhood, my teenage years, and now my adulthood.

The word “guinea” has it’s roots as being a racial slur against us Sicilians, but it’s used playfully in the community. We know that other Sicilians have seen some shit, too. It’s inevitable, really. I’d like to think my family is a special circumstance, though.

Life’s boring without the bullshit, anyway. Growing up guinea was a privilege. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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